Satire can be a tricky beast. On one hand, it can be used to poke fun and feel back the veneer of hate-filled ideology. On the other hand, it can miss the mark, making for an uncomfortable watch. Thankfully, Taika Waititi‘s Jojo Rabbit manages to dance the line, making for an often irreverent but overall compelling look at Nazi Germany and the ideology it infused the youth with.
I do not envy Taika Waititi. Jojo Rabbit is a film that will be divisive among critics and audiences. That is hard to avoid when you are dealing with the sensitive topic of the Nazi regime. Making light of a group that has caused such pain, can be a challenge, and if done wrong, can easily backfire. Even with this challenge, Waititi takes the subject matter and weaves a tale that is ridiculous, brutal, and melancholy, but also filled with heart and a sense of fun that keeps you watching to the very end.
Jojo Rabbit follows the titular character Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis), a young 10-year-old boy growing up believing in Nazi doctrine. He is a proud member of the Hitler Youth, and even has an imaginary friend in the form of Adolf Hitler (Taika Waititi). When the young Jojo finds his mother Rosie (Scarlett Johansson) has been hiding a young Jewish girl named Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie) in their home, his world is turned upside down and his belief systems are thrown into question. The very introduction of Elsa is shot similar to a horror film, giving the audience a look into his indoctrination and how far from reality Jojo sits when the film picks up.