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Sunday, November 10, 2019

Go See "Jojo Rabbit"

I love movies and I love writing movie reviews. I'm not going to write a review of "Jojo Rabbit." I'm just going to say, "Go see Jojo Rabbit." This movie made me and the person I saw it with laugh, cry, and think. It's the best theatrical-release movie I've seen in 2019, and 2019 is almost over. It's audacious, courageous, moving, unforgettable, original, deeply human, and it gets under your skin. Reward this kind of filmmaking with your ticket-buying dollars.

"Jojo Rabbit" is about a ten-year-old Hitler Youth member living in a German city during the waning days of World War II. He's just a child so he has swallowed Nazi ideology whole. He has an imaginary friend: Adolf Hitler. Jojo lives with his mother, and he attends Hitler Youth meetings.

Making a comedy about Nazism is a tough task. Many have tried and failed. One false move and this movie would be splat all over the floor. There are no false moves. "Jojo Rabbit" is supremely confident. It moves like a well-oiled machine. I don't want to say much more because I want you to be surprised and delighted as I was.

I can say the performances are terrific. I found Sam Rockwell, as a Hitler Youth commander, to be particularly compelling. His final scene in this film is one that will stay with me for a long time.

Scarlett Johansson as Jojo's mother ripped my heart right out of my chest. Rebel Wilson is hysterically funny. Thomasin McKenzie has the gravity of a veteran performer twice her age, and when she finally smiles an innocent, little girl smile it tugs at your heart. Archie Yates, as Jojo's fat friend, is adorable. The tall, thin, pale man who played the Gestapo commander is appropriately terrifying and also funny.

This may have been a low-budget movie but the production values are high. The interiors send you back in time eighty years. Scarlett Johansson wears a green art-deco sweater I wanted to reach through the screen and borrow, and maybe never return.

Taika Waititi as Hitler is, at first, simply funny. But then there's a scene where he really unleashes, and it's terrifying. It's clear that Waititi has watched video of Hitler giving speeches and managed to mimic every crazed, hate-mongering gesture.

Go see this movie. Please. And you're welcome.

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