Taika Waititi has always been a filmmaker that’s managed to challenge conventions and deliver tales that are always completely out of the ordinary. With “Jojo Rabbit,” it’s another in a long line of tales about the male ego and the weird world that they belong to. In Waititi’s case, it’s the briefly controversial “Jojo Rabbit,” a movie that received a lot of buzz for its depiction of Adolf Hitler. Once you got down to the meat and potatoes of the narrative though, you learn that it’s the destruction of Hitler and how he’s so uncomplicated that he’s reduced to an imaginary friend of a young child.
Set during the tail end of World War II, lonely German boy Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) prides himself in being a follower of Hitler’s ideology. His world world view is turned upside down, though, when he discovers his single mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a young Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie) in their attic. With his his idiotic imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler (Taika Waititi) guiding him, Jojo must decide if he wants to give her up, or actually rethink everything he’s ever believed.
Waititi’s film is absolutely hilarious and brilliant in the way it completely robs the Nazis of their imposing status by depicting them as nothing but petty, incompetent, losers. Their ranks are dwindling so much by the time we meet them that they’ve resorted to turning their whole following in to a club similar to the boy scouts (Sam Rockwell and Rebel Wilson have hilarious walk ons). It’s only when Jojo spends time with Elsa, can he really understand that everything he’s believed and glorified isn’t just a lie, but a destructive fantasy that can only spell doom for him should he continue adhering to it.
Waititi is hysterical as the figment of Hitler, a scrawny and impotent man child who spends most of his time encouraging Jojo to listen to him. Once Jojo begins to realize that he might not believe everything he’s ever been taught, Hitler becomes so much more shrill and petulant over time. Jojo grasps a lot with what he’s been taught by his father, especially since he views him as a hero, and then witnesses his own mother defying what he identifies as masculine. “Jojo Rabbit” is unique and bizarre, but hilarious and touching in its own way, it’s a sweet coming of age movie only Taika Waititi is capable of.