The movie was released in 2019 in other parts of the world but we had to wait until 2020 for a Dutch release. Luckily for me not a lot of spoilers on Twitter for this movie compared to The Rise of the Skywalker, looking at you fanboys. I was hooked when I saw the trailer, being a fan of Taika Waititi’s work since the release of ‘What We do In the Shadows’. The best way to treat Hitler’s legacy is to put it to shits with a dose of satire.
The movie follows Jojo, a boy who joins the Hitler Jugend in order to become a man and who often has conversations with his imaginary friend: Hitler. Mind you, he is 10 years old so they way Hitler interacts with him is portrayed kind of childish.
His initiation with the Hitler Jugend is during a camp led by Captain Klenzendorf, a washed up officer who was removed from the front because he has only one good eye left. The older members of the Hitler Jugend see that Jojo is a bit cowardish during the training exercises and force him to kill a rabbit with his bare hands. When Jojo fails to do this he is nicknamed Jojo Rabbit, the cowardly boy. In a last act of desperation to show everyone he is brave, Jojo steals a hand grenade of the captain during a training exersice and throws it with all his might. Sadly the grenade bounces off a tree and lands right next to him, sending Jojo to the hospital.
After rehabilitation Jojo is left in the care with Captain Klenzendorf to do menial jobs to support the Reich by collecting metal, posting draft letters and distributing posters to keep morale up for the citizens. His mother doesn’t want Jojo to be inspired by the nazi’s and keeps her hopes up for the end of the war, with the Germans losing. One day Jojo comes home before his mother and hears a noise upstairs. Hidden behind the walls he finds a Jewish girl, who has been allowed to life there by his mother. Torn between his loyality to the Reich and his love for his mother, Jojo is confronted with his image of the world and the choices he has to make.
While the movie is portrayed as a satire, the harsh reality of the ruthlessness of the nazi’s was also shown, with the execution of traitors of the Party. Jojo keeps thinking he is a nazi, while actually he is just a boy whose head been filled with propaganda.
After my boyfriend pointed it out, I have to admit he is right about this, all the funny bits of the movie were all in the trailer which was a bit of a shame. But a real shout out to Scarlett Johansson and Sam Rockwell’s characters. Scarlett Jo showed the real shine I have been missing since ‘Lost in Translation’. She really portrayed the loving mother and kept her son in the dark of the dangerous work she did.
Sam Rockwell as Captain Klezendorff was a very surprising roll, he already knew the war was ending in a loss and struggling with his own feelings as a gay person. Just keeping up appearances and playing an important role saving Jojo’s life.