I was really excited to see this movie, but opening weekend, it was only playing at two theaters. I figured I could hold out until the next week, hoping it’d expand to AMC. Besides, my Saturday was pretty busy. I had an escape room at noon and my Halloween yoga class in the evening. Squeezing the movie in between (and also making a grocery run) would be tricky. Earlier that morning, I’d even told myself that if I only had one event or the other, I totally woulda been willing to actually pay for tickets to see this, I was that excited. As luck would have it, our team escaped the room with 17 minutes left. I got in my truck and checked Google Maps. I’d have enough time to make it to the next showing at Landmark, which was early enough to get me to groceries with a good buffer before yoga. I am oh so glad it all worked out because this may be the best impulsive movie decision I ever made.
Written and directed by Taika Waititi, we meet a young boy named Jojo, growing up during WWII and obsessed with being a helpful little Nazi. He’s so obsessed, that his imaginary friend guiding him in his journey is none other than Hitler himself (played by Waititi). Everything he believes comes into question when he finds a young Jewish girl hiding in his sister’s room.
I don’t even know where to start gushing about this movie, but I absolutely loved it. The hook to draw you in was the humor. Waititi is known for his particular brand of funny, and it was on full display. Really only he could properly set the tone for a film like this. Besides the absurd dialog, his performance absolutely killed me. I’m starting the campaign now for him to be nominated for supporting actor. I’d campaign for things like screen play and picture, but those feel like much more sure things.
I say the humor is only the hook because the story goes so much deeper than that. Yes it’s hilarious, but there are themes that go beyond. I not only laughed but I was close to tears and I was angry and I was shocked, and basically every other emotion at some point in the film. It’s a very important film about tolerance and understanding and I think history is going to remember this film as fondly as I do.
While Taika stole the show, his wasn’t the only amazing performance. Our kids (Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKenzie, Archie Yates) were utterly brilliant. You’d think they had all been acting for decades given the level of presence they had on screen and the nuance in their performance (Yates especially cracked me up with his perfect comedic delivery). Even if nothign else had blown me away about the film, I’d have left there utterly affected by their performances.
One more I wanna highlight: Scarlett Johannson as JoJo’s mother. No one ever really gives ScarJo credit as a comedic actor, but I’ve come to realize how valuable her sense of humor is. I’ve long said that she’s the Avenger that most got Joss Whedon’s sense of humor back in the day, and delivered his dialog to perfection. Now she’s adapted to Waititi’s absurdity and in many ways is the heart of the whole dang thing.
I truly did love every second of this ridiculous film and I expect it to be in many conversations as awards season kicks in to high gear. It might even be my early best picture pick
JoJo Rabbit – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/