Jojo Rabbit (2019)
Directed by Taika Waititi
Based on the novel Caging Skies by Christine Leunens
Screenplay by Taika Waititi
Starring: Roman Griffin Davis, Taika Waititi, Scarlett Johansson, Thomasin McKenzie, Sam Rockwell
Jojo (Davis) is a young member of the Hitler Youth who just discovered that his mother (Johansson) is hiding a young Jewish girl (McKenzie) in their attic.
This is a fascinating blend of comedy and drama based on the 2008 novel Caging Skies by Christine Leunens. Taika Waititi directed the film using the screenplay he wrote. The cast of the film features Roman Griffin Davis in the title role. He’s joined by a long list of talented people including Scarlett Johansson (Isle of Dogs), Taika Waititi (What We Do In The Shadows), Thomasin McKenzie (The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies), and Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri).
This is a fascinatingly written film that finds space for both the comedy and the drama to shine. It took a lot of finesse to write a comedy script about a kid joining the Hitler Youth. Thankfully Taika Waititi did a great job bringing out the laughs, but also acknowledging the tragedy and drama underneath it all. Much of the comedy focuses on the absurd ideals of the Nazi party. The actors do a great job hitting these notes perfectly, really bringing out the laughs. The drama is also very wonderfully handled. The dramatic moments of the movie get very honest about this dark era in world history. Together, these elements combine to create something wonderful and powerful.
The cast of this film does a great job with the material. Every performance seems to find the right tone for the given scene. Roman Griffin Davis does an excellent job connecting with the many stars he’s paired with throughout the film. He gives his character a sense of conflict that really adds something great to the film. Scarlett Johansson also does solid work with her role in this one. Her connection with Davis was essential to the story, and the chemistry works perfectly.
In addition to the writing and directing, Taika Waititi delivers in front of the camera as well. His performance and his interactions with Davis make for some of the most fun moments of the movie. Thomasin McKenzie and Sam Rockwell are just a few of the other stars that make this one into something special. The cast does an excellent job elevating the material to bring out the laughs and the heart in the story.
The production work on this movie doesn’t miss a beat. The visuals are solid, and the sound work is good. The music in this one also works nicely to help bring out the tones of the story. If you’re a fan of good comedy this is one to see. I would also encourage anyone who likes honest dramas. This movie blends the two elements together seamlessly. This is a movie about World War II and the Nazi party, so not everything is happy and fun. Overall, this might be one of the most unique film experiences you can have from the long list of new releases in 2019. I give this one 4.3 out of 5 stars.