JoJo Rabbit: Where the Heil Things Are - Taika Waititi is Hitler

JoJo Rabbit, Your Life Is Calling


Oh my God. This looks amazing.

I’m in but, woof, that is some heavy duty Wes Anderson.

— Jojo Rabbit (@jojorabbitmovie) July 26, 2019

At first I was disappointed they were dragging out this overdone meme, but that was actually well written.

I’m still hoping he speaks some German in the film or at least does the inevitable dub for the German market - he did a fantastic job when he took his former assistant to task over Skype in What We Do in the Shadows.

Imaginary and whimsical. Seems like a unique movie with a spin on War or politics.

New trailer out.

After watching that trailer, Im sold. It looks awesome.

Judging from a quick look at Twitter, the audience responded strongly to Jojo Rabbit, but the initial reviews are mixed at best. I was kinda worried this would end up like a Wes Anderson take on Life is Beautiful, but it’s still disappointing to see that concern seems justified.

Despite a few flashes of tragedy, “Jojo Rabbit” lingers in a charming muddle of good vibes without really confronting their implications. He may be one of the few working directors capable of injecting quirky scenarios with real depth, but in this case, he reduces the underlying circumstances — you know, that Holocaust thing — to a superficial prop. Waititi makes a conscious effort to obscure the ugliest elements of the scenario. The cartoon Nazis in “Jojo Rabbit” are so far removed from reality that they make it all too easy to laugh off the circumstances at hand. That’s not only crass but disingenuous, a feature-length variation of the shower-scene fake-out in “Schindler’s List.” Jews definitely perished in the gas chambers, Nazis weren’t just a bunch of dopey chumps, and Jojo’s story concludes far too easily for its own good. Yes, Waititi’s sugary fantasy unearths an endearing quality in the most unlikely places. But in the process, it buries the awful truth.

The audience will see through it, too. But is this really a lesson we need to learn? “Jojo Rabbit” is based on “Caging Skies,” a novel by Chelsea Winstanley that’s entirely serious in tone, but the movie turns its kid hero’s blinkered anti-Semitism into another form of hipsterism. The fact that the heart of Jojo’s dialogue with Elsa is his desire to hear what Jews are like plays as a too-cool-for-school version of the usual bonding dialogue between a couple of kid actors. We’re meant to identify with Jojo, since he’s the hero, and so the film tweaks us, however playfully, into “identifying” with his feeling that Jews are the Other, knowing full well that he’ll come around. We know he will because Elsa is the film’s strongest presence, both sassy and full of saddened feeling. And Roman Griffin Davis is an impressive young actor, with a face that’s like hundred emojis. I put it that way because the movie, even when it grows sentimental, doesn’t draw us inside the feelings these two have for each other. It leaves those feelings on the surface.

Following in the path of any number of comic creators of the past, Waititi clearly wants to be funny and be loved, and he makes his bid for the latter in the final minutes as he signals Jojo’s conversions from the stranglehold of Nazis and hope for the future through the courage of Elsa. To those susceptible to this sort of last-minute string pulling, the wrap-up will satisfy. But it doesn’t begin to account for the sort of gullibility-turned-to-eagerness of millions of people to embrace the Nazi cause, and the cartoonishness of it, while amusing at the outset, doesn’t wear well as matters deepen and progress. To the contrary, it has a choreographed, rock ‘n’ roll ending.

Tell me I’m not the only one deeply offended. I couldn’t even make it through the trailer. What’s next, a modern “reimagining” of Hogan’s Heroes?

This seems like one of those solidly “decent movie, bad timing” films; I don’t think the world (at least the plugged in “woke” world) is quite in the mood for a film like this. I mean part of the problem is that the basic premise is that of viewing the world through the rose-colored lenses of childhood, so everything has a cheery, happy, ridiculousness to it - even if the protagonist is in Nazi Germany and being trained for the army, and I suspect a lot of viewers aren’t going to be discerning enough to pick up on this framing.

I think what critics will either not get or get and disagree with is that it’s basically an film about middle class privilege participating and/or enabling the bad things around them. Even if that’s explicit though, some viewers just aren’t going to care to watch a film about middle class privilege no matter where the journey ends up. And, to be fair, not one using Nazi Germany as the setting.

Some critics may like it, though, if they connect Nazi Germany to the contemporary West… i guess there’s a kid out there with an imaginary Trump, or see it as generalized absurdity filtered through the bright eyed enthusiasm of childhood still unaware of big picture issues.

Personally I had been kind of assuming Waititi chose to do this movie now because the world seems to be falling back in love with Nazis in a deeply uncritical way.

Sure, but this is the age of the death of satire - even knowing it’s satire is not enough, because many people will simply not get it, or get it and be afraid others not get it and take it at face value, or feel that its subject matter is too serious/contemporary/dangerous for satire.

Just like Green Book!