A refreshing blend of playfulness and heart, Jojo Rabbit is a film you won't be able to stop thinking about as awards season approaches. 2019 has proven to be a pretty noteworthy year in terms of film. Flicks like Once Upon A Time In Hollywood and Joker have waltzed their way into dinner table conversations with ease; Todd Phillips has rapidly become a household name. But Taika Waititi's Jojo Rabbit is a movie that demands to be discussed with more than just small talk. It is unlike any other film you've seen this year, full of color and heart, and bordering the line of political controversy.
Dubbed an “anti-hate satire”, Jojo Rabbit is the tale of Jojo Betzler, a young German boy who is forced to reevaluate his brainwashed infatuation with Nazism after he discovers his mother is hiding a Jew. While other blockbuster films this year play it safe and rack up billions of dollars in box office sales, Jojo ventures into uncharted lands in the world of cinema, making a bold political statement that is absolutely necessary in today's tense climate. The movie hit select theaters last month after winning the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival - and here are 5 reasons why it needs to be at the top of your watchlist.
1. The Visual Aesthetics
First and foremost, Jojo Rabbit is a visually stunning film. Waititi’s blend of rich yellows and playful reds parallel the enchanting color palette of Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom. Every shot is purposeful and evocative, allowing Waititi’s simultaneously clean-cut and whimsical directorial style to drip through the screen — and the products are absolutely breathtaking images that every film lover's dreams are made of.
2. Waititi's Unique and Riveting Sense of Humor
Jojo is probably going to be the funniest movie you see this year (although Rian Johnson’s Knives Out still has a worthy shot at that title). The movie boasts a hilarious mixture of black comedy and satire that is sure to keep you laughing through the entirety of its two-hour running time. Waititi is unafraid to infuse his distinct sense of humor into the film's historical setting, and somehow, it works unreasonably well.
3. A Beautiful (If Controversial) Story
Set in Nazi Germany, Jojo Rabbit is naturally faced with heavy subject matter, which is no easy feat to tackle in a PG-13 comedy. But Jojo does not shy away from the humane beauty and the inhumane horror of its historical climate. It is a story of empowerment throughout, with minority characters serving as role models for viewers. Unexpectedly moving, the film is a celebration of love, dancing, and peace in a world swamped with hate, sobriety, and war; it'll make you cry almost as much as you laugh.
4. Brilliant Child Performances
Famed stars Scarlett Johansson (Avengers: Endgame, Lost in Translation) and Sam Rockwell (Vice, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri) are standouts in the movie — but the heart of the film lies in the performances by child stars Thomasin Mackenzie (Leave No Trace, The Hobbit) and newcomer Roman Griffin Davis. The two play off of each other beautifully, creating a charming and unforgettable dynamic. They work in tandem to bring a sense of youthful exuberance to life on the screen.
5. Taika Waititi As Adolf Hitler
For the majority of the film, Jojo only has his imaginary best friend to rely on for advice; unfortunately, this friend happens to be Jojo’s make-believe manifestation of Adolf Hitler. Of course, Taika Waititi’s performance as the Führer warrants its own reason for you to see the movie in itself. As a Maori Jew, Waititi is far from the most likely candidate to play the Nazi leader. But rather than pursue a more historically accurate portrayal, Waititi plays upon what is perhaps the film’s greatest triumph: the story is entirely through ten-year-old Jojo’s eyes. This gives Waititi the freedom to create a mocking, satirical version of Hitler — and, as Waititi sees it, a display of much-needed disrespect towards the man.
If you still haven't seen Jojo Rabbit in theaters yet, now is the time to buy those tickets — and if you have seen it, you're already due for a rewatch.