Jojo Rabbit (2019)
October 19, 2019 7:15 PM - Subscribe

A young boy copes with growing up during the last days of Nazi Germany.

Jojo is fanatical about the Fuhrer (Taika Watiti), so much so that he is Jojo's imaginary friend. But Jojo discovers that his mother (Scarlett Johansen) is hiding a Jew in the house, a friend of his dead sister. With the defeat of Germany and his personal idol looming in the future, Jojo must come to terms with the truth about his mother and the girl she is hiding. Sam Rockwell, Alfie Allen, Rebel Wilson, and Stephen Merchant co-star.

Despite the controversial nature of the film, it currently has a 77% critic score and 100% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.
posted by miss-lapin (19 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
posted by eustatic at 10:57 AM on October 20, 2019 [4 favorites]

This movie has the single best dad joke I have ever seen on the big screen.
posted by hototogisu at 11:44 PM on October 24, 2019

I’m choosing to believe that Hitler jumping out of Jojo’s window was an homage to Danger 5. Also, wouldn’t have expected to tear up at the captain’s end, but this movie is full of surprises.
posted by rodlymight at 7:33 PM on October 29, 2019 [5 favorites]

What a wonderful, wonderful film.
posted by FallibleHuman at 10:27 PM on November 5, 2019 [7 favorites]

Soooo I wanted to see this movie because I wanted to be able to laugh about Nazis for a couple hours. I wasn't disappointed; it's nice to remember that all this nastiness is, for better and worse, human nastiness. And the movie was, so good. Taika Waititi is one of the better directors for working with child actors, so I'm not surprised the kids were great. And you had a bunch of other actors playing to type very well (Sam Rockwell, Rebel Wilson, Stephen Merchant). But I was honestly dazzled by Scarlett Johannson and Thomasin McKenzie (Elsa). Elsa was brave and scathing and everything you could hope for. Johannson was downright goofy, which was delightful to watch. Waititi somehow pulled off the trick of letting us know that the people on screen were noticing how gorgeous Rosie was without ever leering with the camera. (And of course, ultimately hinted that the male authority in the film wouldn't be interested in pursuing Rosie anyway.)

There's way too much I liked for me to even mention here, but I thought the film did well to acknowledge and move past the potential pitfall of "the monster in my wall is okay, because she's Mine." I also liked the bits of uncertainty (Nathan was said to be alive and working for the Resistance, but actually turned out to be dead; who could say whether JoJo's father was MIA, working for the Resistance, or dead).
posted by grandiloquiet at 7:25 PM on November 9, 2019 [9 favorites]

I sat in the theater, and the lights went down and (after 40 mins of commercials and trailers) all this Nazi footage started rolling, and I said silently to myself, "OK TAIKA, I'm trusting you on this, this is going to be funny right?" And it was. Funny, delightful, heartbreaking and wonderful. Definitely in my all time ever top ten movies.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 3:53 PM on November 18, 2019 [3 favorites]

Just back from seeing this with my 16-year-old son. I mention that because this was his pick; I was along for the ride, mostly to humor him, but hoping for a mildly entertaining movie. What I did not expect was my own tears. I did not expect my kid to cry. I did not expect to spend that last 10 minutes of this movie holding hands and crying for the triumph of heart over ideology, but there we were: my Joe Rogan-curious gamer boy sat and watched empathy discovered and ideology rejected, and I'm not sure if there could have been a more perfect movie for both of us right now.

Taika Waititi was tremendously good, absurd to the correct degree, but never a scenery-chewer. The young actors playing Jojo and his best friend were terrific because of their intense kid-ness--as happy to dress up in brown shirts as in cardboard robot costumes, tuned in to each other, the right scale of being small in an overwhelmingly large and perilous world. Costume, props, scenery--all quite good, with clarity and color. And God, the music! From the Beatles' "Komm gib mir deiner Hand" to David Bowie's "Helden," just perfect, maybe sliiiiiiightly too on-point selections, but chosen to let the audience be in on the joke rather than (in the way of Steven Spielberg movies) to wring a certain set of emotions out of them. But I think the Beatles paired with the movie's opening is a gambit: either it clicks with you, or...or you lose something the movie is trying to say about the "fan" in "fanaticism."

My son would probably roll his eyes at this, but I felt strongly that this movie is, in part, a commentary on toxic fandoms, and a meditation on one boy realizing the harm that his pronouncements about the worth of others have on real people. It's like watching a theory of mind, or maybe a theory of heart, emerge from an unquestioning adherence to propaganda. Jojo is a rabbit, and so are others, at the mercy of larger forces of cruelty, blind obedience, conformity, tribalism. But he escapes. Not without loss. Not without pain. Not without having to reckon with what he really believes. I think that story--coming from a director who has credibility with my son for his work with Marvel movies--that story moved my child. I am thankful for that. As the movie came to a close, we each realized the other was crying and we held hands. Behind us, a lady held forth about well, this wasn't what she was expecting, and yeah, there were some funny bits, and I was struck by the way we had seen and experienced two very different movies. The anachronisms and fable-ness worked for me; I bought in from the beginning, and appreciated the movie on its own terms without being invested in sticking it in a genre box. And so it moved me. Her loss. I suspect my son and I will be talking about it for a good while, which matters to me. Thank you for this unexpected and timely blessing, Jojo.
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:37 PM on November 29, 2019 [24 favorites]

in process, at home, complicated and interesting. we rolled it based on Taika’s work allll the way thru the Mandalorian and I will get back to you
posted by mwhybark at 10:03 PM on December 27, 2019

Loved loved loved it. I went in expecting lots of laffs about Nazis (and it delivered), but knew nothing about the shift to drama. I was totally taken by surprise, as was the rest of the audience. Full credit to the director and actors and writers -- the shift worked flawlessly.

The kid was amazing. The writing was amazing -- how to depict Hitler from a ten year old's point of view? The adults were amazing. The jokes were amazing, especially when borne of simple fact.

This is a tremendous film.
posted by Capt. Renault at 6:45 AM on January 3, 2020 [3 favorites]

Still, I have enough respect for Waititi—and the reviews of Jojo Rabbit have been sufficiently good—that I expected there to be, at the very least, something to argue with here. An attitude that I might disagree with, but nevertheless respect. Instead the film is disappointingly insipid: scattershot in its approach to its difficult subject matter, inconsistent in its tone, and gesturing vaguely at various ideas without bothering to develop them. That’s not to say that Jojo Rabbit is a bad movie—it might be easier to talk about if it was. But, unsurprisingly given Waititi’s involvement, it is a thoroughly entertaining piece of filmmaking, the kind you can enjoy a great deal so long as you don’t think about it too much. There are good gags and fine performances. The plot moves at a steady clip, and the war scenes, when they arrive, are effective and scary. Most importantly, there is a veneer of coolness—that outrageous premise! The colorful, stylish production design, so different from the drab grayness of most WWII movies! The delightful soundtrack, full of German-language covers of The Beatles and David Bowie!—that helps to obscure just how fundamentally middlebrow Jojo Rabbit actually is. How shallow its provocations are. How little it ends up having to say.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:03 AM on January 15, 2020 [2 favorites]

Just got back from JoJo Rabbit. The film was great. All the performances were solid and the emotions were strong. Elsa was scathing and fierce:
Break free, great Aryan.(leaning in close) There are no weak Jews. I am descended from those who wrestle angels and kill giants. We were chosen by God. You were chosen by a fat man with greasy hair and half a moustache.
Rosie expressed her genuine goodness and her own ferocity through the film making JoJo look at the hanged bodies in the town square and having sincere conversations with Elsa. Leavened with the situational humor provided by Stephen Merchant and Rebel Wilson. The humor with the tragedy mingled with the brutality of war. This film is an interesting balancing act and I believe that it succeeds.
posted by jadepearl at 10:39 PM on January 20, 2020 [3 favorites]


After reviewing it in my head, I realized that one of the most comedic scenes in the movie, the Gestapo at JoJo's house, is the most chilling. Notice that Captain K and Finkel show up, and the bike he has is Rosie's bike implying that he knows about Rosie's fate. When the Gestapo asks JoJo where his mother is, it is not about really knowing Rosie's location; it is a way to fuck with JoJo, playing with his lack of knowledge.

Captain K and Finkel arrive to rescue JoJo from the Gestapo. Notice how Captain K is the one asking for Elsa/Inge's papers and lays the groundwork of how her picture does not quite match, "you look like a ghost." He wants to be able to deceive the Gestapo. The look of defeat on his face when he thought he had to hand over the identification documents to the Gestapo was telling, and the look of relief when they become distracted by the YooHoo Jew book is dark. The book foreshadows the narrative of JoJo's development with the final picture of a rabbit in a cage with a key being the culmination of his arc.
posted by jadepearl at 2:56 AM on January 28, 2020 [10 favorites]

full of German-language covers of The Beatles and David Bowie!

Covers? Covers? "Sie liebt dich" was the Beatles' love song to their early fans in Hamburg, recorded only nineteen years after the war ended. "Helden" was Bowie's love song to West Berlin, recorded a dozen years later. Their use at the beginning and end of the film gave them enormous resonance, holding us in the moment of 1944/45, the 1960s/70s and the present day simultaneously, making it clear that the story is as much about now, about the kids watching alt-right rubbish on YouTube who need to hear that the adults they trust don't buy it, and need to see trusted adults resisting it.

And if Nussbaum missed that, maybe that's why she thought that "Jojo Rabbit is that tired, problematic trope, a story about a person who learns not to be racist by meeting one of the people he was racist against". That was secondary to its story. Its key moment is when Jojo realises that his own mother is harbouring a Jew. That's when his Hitler Youth worldview really starts to collapse, right through until the entire Nazi world collapses around him in the final scenes. Although Elsa is a significant character, she isn't the heart of the movie: at its heart is Jojo's mother, the character that Nussbaum spends 300 words telling us she wishes was at the heart of the movie - to the point where she describes the story she wishes that "Jojo Rabbit had chosen to tell" by relating a series of scenes that were in Jojo Rabbit.

I much preferred MonkeyToes' review in a comment above. This was a fantastic film.
posted by rory at 5:15 PM on January 30, 2020 [16 favorites]

that the story is as much about now, about the kids watching alt-right rubbish on YouTube who need to hear that the adults they trust don't buy it, and need to see trusted adults resisting it.

Yes, exactly this.
posted by MonkeyToes at 7:14 AM on January 31, 2020 [1 favorite]

such a premise sounded like yet more desperate scrambling for something new to say about a topic that has been covered too many times, long ago ceasing to yield anything of value...How little it ends up having to say.

I guess a lot of things seem like that when you go in with fingers in your ears saying "la la la I've decided I've already seen and heard everything there is to know about this subject".

And ever if we accept Nussbaum's premise that this is nothing new, sometimes there's nothing wrong with saying something that's already been said many times before, but not for a while, and it looks like people are starting to forget, and maybe now seems like a good time for a nudge.

We watched Boy the other night. There's a great scene where Taika's character, a dad who's recently been released from jail, visits his childhood bedroom, now occupied by his sons, and reveals some swastika graffiti hidden under a picture on the wall.

"I did that."

A long pause.

"Don't get into the Nazi stuff."
posted by some little punk in a rocket at 7:18 PM on February 12, 2020 [2 favorites]

Just a fantastic movie and incredibly deserving of Best Adapted Screenplay. I can't remember the last time a movie took me so many different places.
posted by DrAstroZoom at 8:36 AM on February 21, 2020 [1 favorite]

Scarlett Johansen was amazing in this film. While I was watching the scene in which she assumed the role of Jojo's father, I felt like I was witnessing the product of craft mastery. Scarlett and Taika Watiti created and captured the character perfectly, and I hope they work together again.

No stabbing!
posted by Brocktoon at 10:28 PM on March 9, 2020 [2 favorites]

I enjoyed it, but there were parts that felt like Waititi was telling instead of showing. I'm glad it's found it's audience though, even if it didn't quite land for me.
posted by harriet vane at 2:35 AM on March 30, 2020

Just a fantastic movie and incredibly deserving of Best Adapted Screenplay.

Haha! On the basis of the movie I read the book it was based on, "Caging Skies", and hooo-boy! The movie is both absolutely true to the (first half) of the book, and just completely something else entirely. I cannot think of any other movie that was both so much alike and so at odds with the source material at the same time.

All that aside, good job by Michael Giacchino on the original score.
posted by mazola at 7:22 PM on June 26

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