Jojo Rabbit. Movie Review

This is the fourth feature I’ve seen from Taika Waititi. If I were to describe his sense of humour to someone unfamiliar with his work it would be bizarrely absurdist. His films can be a little inconsistent but are often very funny and he has one masterpiece to his name with Hunt For The Wilderpeople a film I absolutely adore. From the moment Jojo Rabbit was announced as a satire about a young Nazi with Hitler for an imaginary friend well hiding a Jewish girl it seems like a film that could very much go either way. From the second this movie premised at festivals reactions I’ve seen have been all over the place with some loving it and touting it as a major award contender and some calling it we mean-spirited and unfunny I took in an early UK screening to see which side of the divide I would fall on. How is it?
In a word frustrating. Don’t get me wrong it occasionally very funny with Waititi’s sense of humour really showing through in some of the writing. I think the two child actors Roman Griffin Davis and Thomasin McKenzie are terrific. Davis is rightly being considered an awards contender. If you want to see more of McKenzie hunt down Debra Graniks criminally underseen Leave No Trace.
That said a lot of the film feels like Waititi had a decent idea for one basic satirical sketch and is stretching it out to feature length. The joke gets old fast and a lot of it boils down to ” look at those Nazis, aren’t they ridiculous.” There are other moments where it hits on an idea that might be interesting but does not take it far enough (especially in the way it tries to satirize Nazi ” mind control” tactics. The third act shift to ” sincere war drama with jokes” feels like a big misjudgement.
JoJo Rabbit is incredibly frustrating. Well it’s nowhere near as bad as some critics will have you believe its not the best of the year contender that it’s fans think it is.It’s got a couple of good performances, funny sequences and solid ideas but it mostly feels like a sketch that’s starts to wear thin after 5-minutes stretched out to 108.
5/10
In UK Cinemas New Year’s Day

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