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I laughed and I cried
pnathan285 November 2019
This film was exceptional and one of the best I've seen this year. Watiti has great comedic vision and the cast is phenomenal. Jojo Rabbit was wierd , funny , heartwarming and heartbreaking and I think its definitely worth the watch.
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From crying with laughter to tears of despair
nbenardout25 December 2019
For me this film is a total paradox. I have never laughed so hard in one scene and then cried like a baby in the next. It's unique. Go watch.
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Moving, hilarious...tragic
EvilMissQB3 November 2019
The trailer for the movie had me scratching my head but as a HUGE fan of Waititi I felt I ought to give it a shot.

My best spoiler free review is that this is an original, outrageous film. The emotional gamut we are subjected to is whiplash inducing, but without the neck brace and ambulance chasing lawyers.

Every actor is perfection. Young JoJo and Yorkie are devastatingly earnest and so talented. Sam Rockwell is always a master. Every subtle satire is underwritten with a grim level of truth. The soundtrack n unexpected choice.

Go see it. Prepare yourself for quite a ride.
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Humanity at its best
blairpedersen2 November 2019
So good. Taika makes you experience joy, terror, love, hate all in one minute and then he jumps out and runs around in a Hitler costume.

It's historically accurate too showing the polarisation of Germany during war time, indoctrination into the hitler youth and the storming of Berlin.

100% would watch again.
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wacky with feeling
ferguson-61 November 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Greetings again from the darkness. Welcome to the most divisive movie of the year. Some will scoff at the idea and deride the filmmaker without ever even seeing the movie. Some will relay disgust after seeing the movie. A few won't appreciate the style or structure, and will fail to find the humor. Ah yes, but some of us will embrace Taika Waititi's wacky adaptation of Christine Leunens' 2018 novel "Caging Skies" as one of the funniest and most heart-warming films of the year ... fully acknowledging that many won't see it our way.

One wouldn't be off base in asking why a successful filmmaker would tackle such a risky project: a coming-of-age comedy-drama-fantasy about a 10 year old Nazi fanatic who has as his imaginary friend, not a 6 foot rabbit, but the Fuhrer himself, Adolph Hitler. After all, writer-director Waititi is coming off a couple of brilliant indies (2014's WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS, and 2016's HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE) and a major score with Marvel money on THOR: RAGNAROK (2017), arguably the most entertaining superhero movie of the past few years. He certainly could have continued to cash in with 'safer' choices; however, Mr. Waititi sees the world differently than most of us. He finds humor in the drudgery, and humanity in malevolence. He's also a bit goofy.

Playing over the opening credits is the German version of "I Want to Hold Your Hand", as we see old clips of German citizens cheering for Adolph Hitler in a similar manner to how fans used to scream for The Beatles. World War II is nearing the end as we meet 10 year old Jojo Betzler (newcomer Roman Griffin Davis). Jojo is fervent in his fanaticism towards the Nazi way, and buys into the belief that Jews are monsters with horns on their head. He's such a believer that his imaginary friend is actually Hitler, well at least a bumbling boisterous version played by the filmmaker himself - enacted to extreme comedy effect (recalling a bit of Chaplin in THE GREAT DICTATOR). Mel Brooks managed to play Hitler to a laughable extreme in "Springtime for Hitler" in THE PRODUCERS, but the only thing missing her from Waititi's costume is an old timey dunce cap.

Jojo lives at home with his mother Rosie (Scarlett Johansson), while dad is off fighting on the front line. Ms. Johansson's performance is terrific (despite limited screen time) as she creates a believably warm bond with her son during horrific times. Soon, Jojo is off to a Nazi camp designed to teach the boys how to fight (and burn books), as the girls learn the virtues of having babies. The camp leaders are Captain Klenzendorf (Sam Rockwell), who is a bit of a joke on the surface, but more interesting the deeper we dig; Fraulein Rahm (Rebel Wilson) who boasts of having 18 Aryan babies; and Finkel (Alfie Allen) a violent psychopath. At camp with Jojo is his best friend Yorki (newcomer and scene-stealer Archie Yates), and the two show what a genuine friendship can be as the movie progresses.

Things change quickly for Jojo when, by happenstance, he discovers a Jewish girl living in the walls of his home. Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie, LEAVE NO TRACE) shows none of the characteristics that Jojo has been brainwashed into believing all Jews possess. She has no horns, flashes a good sense of humor, and is actually very nice and knowledgeable. In other words, she's no monster. As they get to know each other, Jojo realizes this "nice" Jewish girl contrasts starkly with his lunatic hero Adolph.

Waititi's film is ingenious satire, and it likely won't sit well with those who think not enough time has passed to justify making fun of Nazi atrocities. It's funny and heavy, and deals with some thought-provoking matter in an unusual way. The "Heil Hitler" count approaches the 'F-word' frequency of most Tarantino movies, and there is a German Shepherd gag that caught the audience off-guard. Stephen Merchant's Gestapo search of Jojo's house is comedy at its weirdest. The movie messes with your head as it's some odd blend of SCHINDLER'S LIST, "The Diary of Anne Frank", and an extended Monty Python skit.

It's rare for a film that borders on slapstick at times to have so many touching and emotional moments. The actors are really strong here, especially Ms. Johansson and Ms. McKenzie, who as gutsy Elsa, proves again she is quickly becoming a powerhouse young actor. Roman Griffin Davis carries a significant weight in the story despite being a first time actor, and I can't emphasize enough how young Archie Yates will steal your heart while he's stealing his scenes. Michael Giacchino's score and Mihai Malaimaire Jr's terrific cinematography work well with Waititi's vision ... a satirical vision that would never work outside of his unique filmmaking talent. The story is basically proof of the adage, 'Kill 'em with kindness', when what we are really killing is hatred. At its core, this is a story of humanity and human nature, and how we grab hold of the wrong thing until the truth becomes evident. Now, please pass the unicorn.
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There is hope
gregoryblanch8829 February 2020
Jojo Rabbit demonstrates that there is hope, both for humanity and Hollywood. By the latter I mean it's hard to imagine how a film this original got made in an era of reboots, remakes, sequels and prequels (mostly bad)

The characters are charming and quirky, the dialogue clever and the plot wisely confines itself to telling an intensely personal story rather than one of the war itself. The young male star is perfect, and the other performances shine as well. It does seem though that Scarlett got less time on the screen than she deserves.

The director cleverly doesn't show us certain things, and a lot of good choices were made in the editing room.

Hollywood, if you're listening, more like this please.
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Don't listen to critics and see it for yourself
seanfett6 November 2019
Just watch it and see for yourself. My opinion, it was hilarious and heartfelt. The acting was superb. The story was thought provoking. It was funny at times and heartbreaking at times. I'm a huge fan of What We Do in the Shadows and I am huge fan of JoJo Rabbit. Go support this film in the theatre so more films like this can be made. I can't wait to see what Taika Waititi does next🙏🏻 P.S I'm a Jew
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Endearing and Hilarious
exiledreplicant9 September 2019
Warning: Spoilers
This was another of Taika at his best. Taking him back to his bittersweet indie roots, his storytelling and humanity shows through at every moment. A story of a 10 year old nazi youth in full swing of his country's ideology indoctrination, he starts his journey with his invisible best friend Adolf Hitler (Taika Waititi himself) going off to Hitler Youth camp. His mother is a wild and endearing woman with a playful attitude during this horrible time of war. The movie starts off hilariously, but it takes a little bit of time to allow yourself to feel okay laughing at this side of the german war and this little boy who wants nothing more than to do right by his fuhrer. After a terrible (and hilariously acted) accident, and the discovery that his mother is hiding a young Jewish girl in their attic, his ideals are turned upside down to the thoughts on the war he has grown up with. It's a simple message delivered in a way that tells you what you already know. Facism is bad. It's a story that Taika tells us needs to be told over and over again, because people easily turn a blind eye to the horrors of humankind, but heart and love can prevail. Roman Griffin Davis and Thomasin McKenzie are a great pair and carry the film with warmth and wonderful comedic scenes, but it's Scarlett Johansson who leaves us with the memory of what it means to be on the right side of humanity, and to take life as it comes and teach your children what you can, when you can. Even surrounded by well-known and substantial actors, these two children stand out and bring the movie's warm embrace. Taika is never afraid to lead with a joke, but he always takes the time to bring his message of humanity home by hanging on the sad moments of life too, not jumping over life's tragedies to get to the next one-liner. He balances the good with the bad perfectly, leaving you walking away with a warm feeling in your belly.
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A heartfelt satire needed for today
GODZILLA_Alpha_Predator18 September 2019
Probably one of the most controversial films to come out of TIFF, I went into Jojo Rabbit with cautionious optimism since I am fan of Taika Waititi while still being aware of the divineness it has spawned in some critics. I was pleasantly surprised on how emotional and thought provoking he made this film while still being very funny without going too far.

Jojo is a 10-year old boy who dreams of fighting for his country and making his hero proud. And that hero just so happens to be Adolf Hitler during the final year of WW2. Jojo's blind fanaticism is so extreme he imagines Adolf as his best friend to give him advice, which to no surprise, is not that helpful. After an accident at the Hitler Youth camp, Jojo has to stay with his mother only to discover she is hiding Elsa, a teenage girl who is the very thing his Nazis beliefs have told him to fear and hate: a Jew. As Jojo tries to learn about Elsa's "kind", he begins to sees Elsa as the thoughtful yet scared person she really is and not the monster his beliefs have told her to be.

The smartest thing I can say is Waitia knows when to make a joke about Nazi's beliefs and ideals but then let the bleakness of WW2 set in to embrace the deeper themes and emotions. Within the first act, Jojo sees his world through rose-tinted glasses as he gleefully gives the Nazi salute to his fellow neighbours on a bright sunny day. All of the Nazi characters are heightened and exaggerated for comic relief from Sam Rockwell's Captain Klenzendorf being a tired and annoyed German soldier, Rebel Wilson as the ignorant Fraulein Rahm to Stephen Merchant as the Gestapo agent Deertz. Waititi takes pleasure in making Nazis the but of the joke from showing them being over-committed to saluting each other for just a simple introduction to their obliviousness of believing any stupid fake news they are told came from Hilter himself. Once Jojo settles with Elsa sharing his house, his world begins show its true ugliness as Germany becomes more desperate to hold their ground against the Allied forces. At that point Waititi slows down on the comedy and allows moments of shock and drama to settle in to remind the audience what is the horrible cost of ignorance and blind faith. Cinematographer Mihai Malaimare Jr. switches the color scheme from bright and saturated to cold and grey as the seasons pass to reflect the change in Jojo's state of mind. The parallels to the modern day become very clear without getting too blunt.

The cast plays each of their roles perfectly. Roman Griffin Davis carries the story as a naïve but yet innocence Jojo. Davis is perfectly cast with perfect comedic timing while still being able to sell the emotional beats that are needed. And he has great comedic and emotional chemistry with Thomasin McKenzie as Elsa. McKenzie displays the hardship her character has gone throughout her life and yet still making her fun and sharp-witted when she points out shallowness of Jojo's ideals. Also who is worth mentioning is Scarlett Johansson as Jojo's mother Rosie. Probably the best performance of Johansson I have seen so far, she brings a huge feeling of joy and optimism that is needed to help Jojo's growth as a character. Out of all of the adults that are blind to the horrors the Axis power is inflicting upon the world, Rosie is the only one that is able to see through it and confront it. As for the big question of Waititi himself playing a young boy's interpretation of Adolf Hitler, he handles it very well. His comedic performance is there to show the absurdity of Jojo's brainwashing from the Nazis's teaching. And it helps that he never to tries to humanize the portrayal of his character. There were even a few moments where he becomes a bit more antagonistic towards Jojo as he begins doubting the faith in his idol.

Jojo Rabbit may be a controversial pick if it does get nominated for awards consideration (after I saw it on the last day of TIFF, it surprisingly won the People's Choice Award), but I feel like it is a movie needed for today's political issues. Taika Waititi uses the story of a boy's misguided fantasy and faith to show how easy it is for society to be manipulated into hating minorities, religions and/or groups of people especially when fake news and social media is present. But by the end of the day he shows that compassion and love are still worth embracing in a cruel world so as long as we are able to confront to cruelty in ourselves first.
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Great actors, great messages
gorgos1929 October 2019
As a German, I loved everything about this movie. Absurdity from these times is captured amazingly, and now, almost a century afterwards, we can take it with some humor. Well done, I hope this movie goes on to win some awards.
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A little masterpiece.
condais17 February 2020
Among the best poetic anti war films made. Congratulations.
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See Jojo Rabbit like your life depends on it!
davey-210805 November 2019
I laughed. I cried.. Thank you, Taika Waititi, for this amazing film!

Hands-down the best I've seen in 2019!
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If you think this is offensive you need to look up Satire in the dictionary
ErikLehnsherr4225 October 2019
This is fantastic Political Satire; we need to be able use Satire in the correct way and Waititi did just that. If you think this movie is offensive here is Satires definition:

Satire 1 a literary work holding up human vices and follies to ridicule or scorn 2 trenchant wit, irony, or sarcasm used to expose and discredit vice or folly
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In my all time top 10
ajtammita1 August 2020
I was amazed by the ability of this movie to evoke such polarised emotions. Just watched it again (4th time) and was still riveted to the screen. A tick in every box and a modern masterpiece. I want to single out a performance, but which one. We all know Sam Rockwell is brilliant in everything he does, but we need more of Scarlet in roles that display her awesome talent and screen presence. Roman Griffin Davis and Thomasin McKenzie shone as the lead characters and we will see much more of them I'm sure. But when a movie is this good, it comes down to writing, script, screenplay and direction. The word Masterpiece shouldn't be used lightly, but I use it here.
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Among the Finest Examples of Satire In Recent Memory
Metaflix27 October 2019
Warning: Spoilers
"What did they do?" Jojo asks his mother, inquiring about the townspeople he sees hanging in the village square.

"Plenty of good," Jojo's mother responds, reinforcing the noblest of convictions to both herself and her impressionable young son.

The above interaction is just one of many poignant scenes found throughout Taika Waititi's 'Jojo Rabbit,' about a young boy in Germany's army who discovers that his mother is hiding a Jewish girl in their home.

Beyond the many instances of poignancy and incisiveness, 'Jojo Rabbit' is equally packed with witty dialogue and humorous interludes, making it among the finest examples of satire to emerge from Hollywood in recent memory.

So color us mystified as to why critics have given this gem such a paltry 78% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and 58% on Metacritic. Those who panned the movie are either unable to laugh at absurdity, or they themselves are so absurd that it's not worth anyone's time to read their brainsick thoughts.
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Inventive, hilarious and original - "Jojo" is a ballsy film that works because of its wit and heart - 8/10 ⭐
pere-2536616 September 2019
Warning: Spoilers
I was fortunate enough to catch Taika Waititi's latest film at the 2019 TIFF People's Choice Screening and what an absolute treat it was. In this "anti-hate satire", we follow the trials and tribulations of a German boy who finds a Jewish girl living in his attic and is confronted with a clash of his conditioned values as a little nazi boy. If you think the synopsis sounds crazy, you have no idea what you're in for...

Though seemingly taking inspiration from the works of Wes Anderson and Mel Brooks, "Jojo" manages to create something in an entirely new ball park pulling off a spoof that manages to be hilarious while not disrespecting its touchy subject matter, a feat that only the wonderful Taika (who directed, wrote and acted as Imaginary Hitler in) could pull off so well. The film also boasts some killer cinematography as well as a wonderful soundtrack, both of which punctuate some of the films quieter moments to ground us in the era and atmosphere of the film.

As mentioned above, Taiki plays the titular boy's imaginary Hitler friend and leaves you weak in the stomach from laughing so much - he's, quite simply, hilarious. And yet, he doesn't manage to overpower the rest of the cast which includes Sam Rockwell, Scarlett Jo and Rebel Wilson all of whom are wonderful. But most notably, it's the child performances that take center stage. The two little leads are incredible, making us laugh at times, shed a tear at others and just feel for the two of them. Their comedic timing, range and overall performances are done to a T - it's because of them the film works as well as it does.

In today's day and age, more than ever, people need a reason to just sit back and smile and this makes "Jojo Rabbit" a truly timely film. Leave it to Mr. Waititi to take one of the most gruesome periods in human history and, believe it or not, find both a humour and beauty in its telling. It's also entirely original in its execution and is perhaps the perfect example of the kind of film Hollywood could use more of. All that's left to say is thanks for the laughs Taika; and for your brilliantly twisted mind!
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Everybody Here is on Point, But
acutisnasus2 January 2020
There is no BUT!!!

Everybody here is on point, emotional ride gallore! And that is not the only thing,... what a great storyteller Waititi is! What a good way to make people think!
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NO ONE { - Quite - } Blends Cinematic Moods & Genres The Way Taika Waititi Does . . . This Is A Bittersweet Pick-Me-Up , With A " DIVINELY ⭐⭐⭐ " { - Cheeky - } Spirit .
" A { - Micro - } Review " .

So you think you've seen It All❔❔❔. No, not until you've seen this Utterly { - " Splendorous " - } , Soul Stirring 🌠 , Gorgeously, Beautifully Crafted, & Oh Yes, " SHEERLY RIB-TICKLING " ..{ at -( Several )- points in the film, especially within the First half }... World War II ' Side story ' about an exceptionally bright little 10 year old German boy called Johannes ' Jojo ' Betzler & what he discovers hidden up in the attic of his very own home . . . . . You Haven't. This Oscar Winning Film ( Best Adapted Screenplay 2020 for it's Director-Screenwriter Taika Waititi 🏆) delivers Profoundly { - CLEVER- } writing ; as well as a truly { - " Insanely Phenomenal " - } Mad, Wild, Zany rendition of Jojo's imaginary muse, friend & Idol "Funner"-Brand Adolf, played to an Absolute Tee by none other than the aforementioned Man-of-the-hour & just... ' All Around ' Kiwi Cinematic Genius Mr. Waititi Himself. Not to mention a Veriable 'Plethora' of { - " Deeply, Deeply, Deeply " - } Heartwarming performances from the likes of Scarlett Johansson🏆( ' Rosie ' ), Thomasin McKenzie ( ' Elsa ' ), Sam Rockwell ( ' Captain Klenzendorf ' ) . . . . . & Indeed, from the { - Completely - } Adorable, Sweet & Down to earth ..( & I mean " in real life " )... little title-character playing Roman Griffin Davis . . . . . Kudos ❕❕.

Summation : A Happy-Sad yet { - SUPREMELY , " DELIGHTFULLY " QUIRKY - } tale of Discovery , " Re-Discovery " Eventual Enlightenment . . . & Yes Indeed . . . " That Proverbial Solid , Golden Light 🌠 At The End Of The Tunnel " , Itself . A Massively Heartfelt " 12 Marks Out Of 10 " .
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Taika Waititi is one of the best directors in Hollywood right now.
Azanspy5 February 2020
JoJo Rabbit is a brilliant and brave attempt by Taika Waititi. This movie is crafted by pure creativity. 'An anti hate satire' is the tagline of the movie and the movie shows the Nazi era difficulties through humour and mind blowing dialogue (most from Scarlett Johansson). This was the year that I realised ScaJoh is an excellent actress. All of the cast was excellent including Roman Griffin Davies, Thomasin McKenzie (who both have a bright future), Taika Waititi, Rebel Wilson and an excellent Sam Rockwell. The fat boy also deserves mentioned. JoJo Rabbit deserves acclaim and more people should see it. I don't know why most of the critics hated it but screw them. Jojo Rabbit deserved that Oscar nod for Best Picture and even though there's no hope for winning it, I'm pretty sure the movie has inspired so much hearts and this movie will discussed in the future.
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Much, much better than I expercted
bahduggi10 November 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Truly marvelous performances, and a story worthy of your time, expertly spun. Very comedic, but not a comedy. Sort of a 'Hugo' meets 'The Diary of Anne Frank' as directed by Monty Python. (best I could come up with, hardly adequate). The critics just got this one wrong, perhaps because they fear praising a work of art with controversial images. Predicting three or more Oscar nominations.
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Funny, Poignant, Irreverent. The Guardian Hated It!
meathookcinema2 January 2020
Jojo is a proud Hitler Youth member. He decides to go on a weekend for fellow brainwashed enthusiasts. However, after a (very funny) accident with a grenade he finds himself hospitalised. At home recovering he discovers that his mother is hiding a Jewish girl in their home. He confides this to his imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler (!)

This film is actually a comedy! An off the wall, zany and irreverant comedy that works beautifully. It was a massive gamble to make such a film in such oversensitive and 'woke' times. And it was Disney of all studios that made Jojo Rabbit! Should such a terrible period from history be depicted in such a chirpy and comical way? Should Hitler be portrayed as such a goofball within the film? YES! Whether it's Mel Brooks (who said he loved JoJo Rabbit) with The Producers and it's musical Springtime For Hitler or Joan Rivers making her controversial joke about the Holocaust on Fashion Police, humour reaches the parts that more earnest and serious pieces of 'art' can't. It forces you to laugh at whatever is the target of the joke is and then analyse why you laughed at something that you normally wouldn't see as comical.

Whilst most critics have lauded the film, there are peripheral pundits who have either said that the filmmakers have gone too far (How dare they make a comedy starring Adolf Hitler?!) or that they didn't go far enough (How dare they make a film about Nazi Germany and not show the full horror of what happened?!). The Guardian hated the film which is another reason for audiences go and see this gem of a film.

But, understandably, everything depicted in the film isn't just for laughs. There are plenty of gut-wrenching moments when the full horror is brought home to the characters and audience alike. These poignant sequences aren't milked for all their worth and this makes them all the more powerful and genuine. There were a couple of pivotal scenes which made me fight back tears. These scenes were played out for what they were without the whole film descending into a tissue-soaking cry-a-thon which would have cheapened and devalued the movie's content.

The film also looks beautiful with set designs and a colour palate that makes Jojo Rabbit a feast for the eyes. This film is beautifully constructed. Jojo's room, the house in which he resides, the cubby hole that houses Elsa and the surrounding environs are all aesthetically pleasing and a joy to behold.

Also, check out the framing. Every scene feels just as quirky, off-kilter and as warped as the narrative. Watch out for the scene on the giant steps and the later scene with it's emphasis on a character's shoes and how this motif is used later on in the film in an extremely heartbreaking but dignified and tasteful way.

The soundtrack is also fantastic with The Beatles' German language version of I Wanna Hold Your Hand ('Komm, gib mir deine Hand') and Bowie's Helden leading the way. In fact, these two rather obscure (to English eyes anyway) versions of well known songs normally heard in their Mother Tongue depict the whole feel of the film- off kilter, eschew and very original.

There are uniformly amazing performances by the likes of Roman Griffin Davis playing Jojo, Scarlett Johannsen as his mother, Thomasin McKenzie as Elsa the Jewish hideaway and Sam Rockwell (great to see him taking more risks with his choice of roles after starring in the ultra-woke and unbearable Three Billboards). Also, look out for Stephen Merchant as a very sinister Nazi inspector. He reminded me of The Demon Headmaster. But it's director and screenwriter Taika Waititi who plays Adolf Hitler who steals the show. Every scene that hes in is comedy gold as he depicts Hitler as a kind of bro/dude best friend to Jojo. His lines and mannerisms are laugh out loud hysterical.

4 parts humour, 1 part sentiment, this film has a power that will seep into your brain during it's running time and stay with you long after the film is over. In fact my first thought on leaving the cinema was that I wanted to see it again.

I feel privileged to have seen one of the best films of 2020 on Jan the 1st of this year. A cracking start to a new decade of movies.
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Critic critique
ltwood-992-2751539 September 2019
Jojo Rabbit will divide critics into ; those who marvel at the latest , comedic , Golden Egg , produced by this goose , Taika Waititi and those that want to tear the goose apart , in an attempt to smear some gold , on their own ability to dissect and criticise . Every kid that walks away from this movie , wanting to be a better person , is a tiny step , to making the world a better place ( the goal of the movie ) Those critics who want to shut that down , before it starts , need to ask themselves " why was everyone but me laughing ? " Update 15/Sept Peoples Choice Award TIFF . Lesson... Never try to PAN (fry) a golden egg ! :-)
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Sometimes All We Need To Do Is Dance
ThomasDrufke5 November 2019
I've always said that a great ending can elevate your opinion on the film as a whole. Perhaps not completely shift how you feel, but certainly enhance or detract. I was enjoying the ride with Jojo Rabbit for awhile but I was waiting for the film to move me emotionally the way I'd heard it might. The last 15-20 minutes of the movie do just that. Boasting a hilarious script, unique direction from Taika, terrific performances all around, and a message that is as moving as any film this year, Jojo Rabbit is a win on all accounts. And perhaps, just the movie we need at this time. I absolutely adored this film.

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Over-rated and Over-hyped
truemythmedia26 November 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Taika Waititi ("Thor Ragnarok") is an auteur who I really respect, a lot. He has an incredibly unique, soulful, and humorous sensibility which, despite walking through dark themes and imagery at times, always seems to find a settled place in hope and peace. He has been able to keep this soul throughout films about vampires, foster care, parental death, and even the MCUs "Thor Ragnarok," one of the best entries into the MCU Canon.

It is a rare thing when a truly unique voice is given the opportunity to make a blockbuster like Thor and even more rare that they manage to maintain their artistic integrity as they do so. Considering this, I was eager to see "Jojo Rabbit," apparently the film you make after a smashingly successful first go at a major Hollywood blockbuster and the cache' that success garners you, at least, that is, if you are Taika Waititi.

The concept of this film is the other half of the draw, for me and, most likely, for many people who have seen the trailer. It's a pretty wild concept to look at the fall of the German Reich from the perspective of a naive wide-eyed eager young boy who is actually a pretty big fan of Hitler and really hates Jews. As I sat down to watch this film, I had moments where I hoped I was about to see something akin to "Death of Stalin," poignant and cutting satire that leaned hard into its themes, with a dash of "Moonrise Kingdom," childhood antics and adulting.

In this regard, the film did not disappoint. Especially, the first 30 minutes or so of "Jojo Rabbit" is chock full of children hurting themselves, engaging in hilarious ignorance driven misspeak, and a healthy dose of sardonic wit in which the young troop of pseudo cub scouts seem more like children being thrown into basic training and brainwashing. This section is so enjoyable, partially because of the child actors who are simply stellar throughout. The thrill of team activity and camaraderie is writ large across all of their faces even as their confusion about things 'too-grow-up' for them begin to encroach on their happy go lucky fun in the woods lifestyle.

This isn't all there is to life, though, as Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) is soon to learn. Although he doesn't know it, his mother (Scarlett Johannson, "Her") is a member of the resistance and is hiding a Jewish girl in her attic. With Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie,"The King") we get the introduction of an Anne Frank sort of character who forces Jojo into a bit of a quandary. On the one hand, he feels like he should turn her in but he also fears the 'devious ways of the Jew" and suspects that turning her in may end up getting him and his mother in trouble. He decides instead to dedicate himself to learning and writing about the things he learns from her as a sort of study on Jews and why they are so awful.

As you can see, this film has some really interesting character complexities at play and I haven't even gotten to Sam Rockwell ("Moon") as the Troop Leader for the kids or Jojo's little fat friend in the Hitler Youth who has some of the best lines of the film.

Unfortunately, this is where I have to say that I didn't love this film. For all of its great qualities which I described above, the film left me wanting. I don't think everyone will feel this way but there is no way around the fact that this film just didn't stick the landing for me. Why? I'm not exactly sure, and I'll own that.

I don't know why I didn't walk out of the theater shouting about about how much I adore this film. Maybe, the humorous and dramatic parts weren't balanced in the way that I typically like or certain sections weren't as snappy as I expected. Either way, I end up feeling that, while it is a good movie, it isn't one I expect to watch more than once more in my life, if that.

However, I do think that the film has an audience out there and I sincerely hope it finds that crowd. It is full of heart and the themes of seeking understanding about those different than us, the drive for acceptance, and confronting the ugly realities of life but not losing hope are surely important ones that anyone today will see the value of. Also, if you want to see a kid shoot a bazooka by accident and react as if he just spilled the milk instead of blowing up a building, then you may need to run out and see this film.
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Very funny, though it falls short of what it could be
Jared_Andrews25 November 2019
Warning: Spoilers
"Jojo Rabbit" is a light-hearted comedy exploring dark elements. It tells the story of a 10-year-old boy growing up in Germany near the end of World War II. He's a lot like other boys his age, struggling to fit in and find his way, searching for group and sense of belonging. Unlike a lot of boys his age, he is a passionate Nazi who gleefully exclaims, "Heil Hitler!" as he skips down the street to a camp for young Nazis-in-training. Accompanying him as he skips, cheering him on, is his imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler, himself.

Hitler, played with uproarious levels of buffoonery by writer/director Taika Waititi, provides many of the film's early laughs. Sadly, the movie fails to deliver on its early promise. It doesn't crash burn - the end product is still respectable - but all the parts never totally come together in a completely satisfying way. We hope for more from a proven entity like Waititi.

The title "Jojo Rabbit," as it turns out, is half the name of the 10-year-old boy and half the name of a cute, fluffy animal. Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) becomes the begrudging recipient of the nickname "Jojo Rabbit" for his choice to not coldly murder an innocent rabbit while at Nazi camp. An older boy makes a different choice regarding the rabbit, then callously chucks the body across the woods.

Jojo doesn't fit in here. He doesn't want to be a Nazi. He just doesn't know it yet.

Jojo lives with his loving, playful mother, Rosie (Scarlett Johansson), who secretly works for the resistance. However, she allows Jojo to follow his misguided Nazi ways, knowing this will keep him safe from party members who search the town for dissenters. Johansson plays the part with impressive layers of complexity. While appalled by her son's Nazi passion, she understands that now is not the time to reprimand him. She quietly does her work and continues to love her son dearly, which is precisely why she opts not to tell Jojo about the young Jewish girl she is hiding in her wall.

When Jojo finds the girl (Thomasin McKenzie), he is shocked and horrified. But he quickly discovers that she isn't at all the way Jews have been described to him. "Where are your horns?" He asks her sincerely.

It's not long before Jojo begins to realize the girl he has been told is a monster is actually a friend, while his imaginary friend is the real monster. If you've seen any movies before, you know this is coming. Nevertheless, a few moments successfully tug at the heart strings. Another moment doesn't work quite as well and ends up feeling forced, even manipulative.

The movie's execution winds up being a bit disappointing because of how much potential seemed possible in the opening act. The best moments are the funniest ones, usually featuring Hitler and Jojo, along with a few others that include the scene-stealing Archie Yates, who plays Jojo's friend.

Despite the movie's success in comedic execution, the heavier material waivers, leaving the vision of the story a bit foggy. What could have been a best-of-the-year contender, winds up being merely an above average comedy.
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