When you see Taika Waititi’s name attached to something, you get an idea what the movie is going to be like. Jojo Rabbit is no exception to that, dancing on the thinnest possible tightrope with its satire, with steaming hot lava of poor taste under it. Credit where credit is due, Waititi manages to pull back the wittiness just at the right moments to let some meaning and humanity seep through the script. It’s a film that will turn off many with the explosive start that sets the tone early on, but those that endure it will find the treasure chest at the end.
The satire and humor strike just the right balance here by pointing out all the ridiculousness that comes with the subject matter, making lovely little jabs throughout. Scarlett Johansson (Rosie) is marvellous in slightly smaller role than she’s been used to recently, playing with full commitment the mother role who is both protective and not afraid to be the butt of the joke. Roman Griffin Davis (Jojo) keeps upping the level of his performance with every scene, finding himself keeping up with much more experienced actors. With his time on the screen being very limited, Archie Yates (Yorki) steals every single one of his scenes, often providing the biggest punchlines just with enough childlike wonder. All of these performances are helped by risky yet challenging script by Waititi while the costume department also deserves some applauses.
The first 15 minutes felt like the weakest part of the film, coming off as just a shock value for shock value’s sake. Neither the jokes or performances turned out to be as satisfying as the rest of the movie. Luckily the dramatic points of the story swept some of that under the rug, balancing Jojo Rabbit to be a fairly cohesive piece of work.
Smileys: Humor, Scarlett Johansson, Archie Yates, Roman Griffin Davis, screenplay, costuming, message
Frowneys: Weak beginning
You could describe it with one word: exquisite.