Movie Review: Jojo Rabbit


Image via The New Yorker

Jojo Rabbit focuses on a ten-year-old Hitler Youth boy who battles with his moral compass.

All the advertisements for “Jojo Rabbit” portrayed it as a fresh, satirical take on the Hitler Youth program during mid-World War II Germany. Although the exposition fits this picture, it quickly becomes a drama. Although I found it to be a good movie, I felt the promotions showed a very different film.

The movie stars Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis), a young German boy trying to part of Hitler’s youth program. His desire to be liked is personified as Hitler (Taika Waititi), who gives him advice. After being injured in a grenade accident, Jojo is stuck at home for months. While exploring his house, he finds that his mother (Scarlett Johansson) is harboring a teenage Jewish girl named Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie). After discovering Elsa, Jojo wages a moral battle between his good heart and his desire to be liked and accepted. 

The major problem I had with this movie were the advertisements. All of the promotions I saw portrayed it as a comedy about mid-1940s Germany. Although the comedic elements were intermixed well, I felt that the movie was much more dramatic than the advertisements made it appear. The movie was an emotional journey for Jojo, but the advertisements only showed it as a lighthearted comedy, almost even satire, about the Hitler Youth program.

Another issue I had with the movie was its use of tension. The movie built tension very well because the viewer knew how dangerous it was to harbor a Jewish individual during World War II, however, I think the result of the tension was underdeveloped. The dramatic build-up was phenomenal but the payoff was weak. For example, Jojo’s youthful imagination leads him to believe that Elsa is a ghost of some kind. While exploring Elsa’s room, he finds the wall panel she hides behind. The tension is built very well as Jojo explores, but the pay off is displayed as Jojo running away. I felt that this decision to not use the tension more made the dramatic aspects of the movie less impactful.

In the end, I thought the movie was fantastic. Jojo’s emotional growth was displayed very well, especially through the lens of a ten-year-old character. Although the advertisements were deceiving, the comedic elements were carefully placed throughout the dramatic ones. I would definitely recommend this for anyone seeking a dramatic movie.