Following Boy in 2010, writer, director, and actor Taika Waititi has had an explosive decade. He developed somewhat of a cult following with 2014’s What We Do In The Shadows, starring alongside Jemaine Clement (who he had previously worked with on Flight of the Concords amongst a few other projects such as Waititi’s first full feature film, Eagle vs Shark) and followed this up quickly with his next hit – Hunt for The Wilderpeople. Finaly, in 2017, he directed and starred in Thor: Ragnarok, finally bringing his career beyond small-budget, indie flicks. Luckly, however, Jojo Rabbit sees the director return to his roots, just with a bigger budget and more star-studded cast. In this post I’ll be reviewing the film but avoiding any spoilers if you haven’t seen the film yet.
Performances and Casting
Starring Taika Waititi himself as Adolf Hitler, the film also boasts a cast including Scarlett Johansson (Lost in Translation, The Avengers), Sam Rockwell (Moon, Seven Psychopaths), Thomasin McKenzie (Leave No Trace, The King), Rebel Wilson (Pitch Perfect, Bridesmaids), Alfie Allen (John Wick, Game of Thrones), and Stephen Merchant (Logan, The Office). The film also welcomes newcomer Roman Griffin Davis as our protagonist – a 10-year-old German boy struggling with the morals imposed on him by the Hitler youth program – and he does a fantastic job.
Every cast-member perfectly fits their character and each delivers a great performance, with stand-out performances from Rockwell and McKenzie. I would say, however, that Waititi’s performance is a little disappointing, but that may just be because his best moments were in the trailer and he is a little outshone by the other cast-members.
Screenplay and Direction
The whole film is brilliantly written and directed. It seems as if this had a lot less improvisation than his other work but, in this case, its probably for the better. Throughout the film, Waititi does what he does best – mixes emotions of incredible sadness with light, funny quips and moments of laugh-out-loud laughter.
Technicals and Music
The music of the film is generally uninteresting but reasonably well done. That being said, the closing credits help bring the film to a hopeful end with an interesting German rendition of David Bowie’s Heroes (please do correct me in the comments if I am mistaken).
The production design and costumes for the film are brilliant. Usually in war films, Germany is depicted as reasonably dark with uninteresting, old furnishings and it is clear that, in designing the sets of the film, the design team has done their researched and discovered that this was not the case. The 1940s Germany brought to the screen is as it was – colourful (as Germans at the time were particularly interested in achieving a positive, advanced aesthetic). This is a nice little detail that I thought was worth appreciating as it is usually ignored by WWII films. Also, the costumes were great. I cannot speak at all for accuracy, but they fit the tone of each character well and, unusually for comedies, played a fairly large role in creating an atmosphere and actually seemed to mean something to the characters. This is especially obvious in the case of young Jojo and his Nazi uniform – showing what he aspires to and is encouraged to become.
Editing and cinematography for the film were not noticeable but that is probably complimentary as they are largely noticeable when they slip up. Especially in this case, the editing and cinematography blending in allows the audience to stay involved with the story without being pulled out at any point.
In summary, though Jojo Rabbit is not Waititi’s best work, it is definitely still worth a watch and is extremely enjoyable. It takes an interesting spin on WWII movies and brings a new, creative story and feel to a story and world that we are all familiar with.
I hope you liked this review and be sure to check out more of our content at ScreenHub Entertainment such as my spoiler-free reviews of Rafiki or Men In Black: International and our article on Keanu Reeves’s character in Cyberpunk 2077.