‘Jojo Rabbit’ refreshes satire

“Jojo Rabbit” is a charming coming of age story… set in Nazi Germany. Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) is a ten-year-old German boy during WW2, and proud of it. He dreams of one day joining the ranks of the Third Reich, but on account of his youth, he settles for going to a camp for the Hitler Youth. After accidentally injuring himself with a hand grenade, he ends up house-bound. Unable to join in on the training, he runs simple errands for the Nazis every now and then, playing inside most of the time. All the while he’s accompanied by his imaginary friend, Hitler.

That is, until he finds a Jewish refugee, Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie), hiding in his home. Faced with the normalcy and kindness of the girl he finds, seemingly contradicting the Nazi’s depiction of Jews, he begins to question the government’s narrative and his imaginary friend.

“Jojo Rabbit” is a simple and charming coming of age story, darkly funny and ridiculous at some points, and sincere and heartwarming at others. 

Despite the film taking place during the Holocaust, it’s uproariously comical, rather than trivializing the times, the humor highlights the darkness of the European war.

Jojo and Elsa’s characters also bring a lot of humanity to the movie, and the rapport they establish feels genuine. Jojo’s mother, played by Scarlett Johansson, is also a highlight, delivering an imaginative and dynamic performance. 

The cinematography is generally unnoticeable, if mildly pretty. However, a motif in the framing of certain shots uniquely foreshadows a major event near the end, which improves the overall presentation.

Many aspects of the film, the score, Johansson’s performance, and the quaint shots of countryside and village, harken back to classics set in the period such as “The Sound of Music,” despite it focusing on the comedy and characters.

The plot, overall, is disappointing. Although it has plenty of character, it does rely on common clichés, and it’s doubtful that a second watch would yield anything not caught on the first. 

Overall, however, it’s a sweet, dark comedy that’s definitely worth a watch. I give “Jojo Rabbit” an eight out of ten.