- 13 Jan 20
TAIKA WAITITI'S NAZI SATIRE IS ABSURD – AND FUN!
Satire is harder than it looks. Ideally, it needs a razor-sharp focus, a reason to exist, and it needs to be audacious. Satire is meant to punch up – but in order to do that, you need a target, a motive, and one hell of a right-hook.
Jojo Rabbit is a comedy with a lot of jokes about how ridiculous the Nazis were. It's also about the idea of acceptance, trying to fit in, and not embracing bigotry and ignorance just because it's the norm that surrounds you.
Based on the novel Caging Skies by Christine Leunens, Taika Waititi's film is amusing. Set during World War II, 10 year old Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) is a lonely boy who attends a Hitler Youth camp, is very proud of his uniform, plasters posters of Hitler on his walls, and fills the void left in his life by his absent father, and his distracted mother, with an imaginary friend: a goofy, wisecracking, "down with the kids" Hitler, played by Waititi, who nags Jojo with lines like "Heil me, bro! Youıre overthinking it! You can heil me better than that!"
This imaginary, flamboyant, tantrum-throwing, hipster Hitler is only slightly more absurd than the other adults who surround Jojo, such as Rebel Wilson's Fraulin Rahm, who encourages Jojo and his campmates to believe that Jewish people have devil horns, perform hypnosis and are covered in scales. But these are the kind of myths and lies that a child's imagination will latch on to, so Jojo falls for them, hook line and sinker – until he discovers Elsa (Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie, graceful, steely and fragile), the Jewish girl his mother (Scarlet Johansson) has been hiding in their house. The pair strike up a friendship that throws Jojo's whole worldview into question.
Griffin Davis is a wonderfully expressive young actor, and the film's Wes Anderson-like absurdity and great, Bowie-filled soundtrack are fun.