Taiki Waititi’s “Jojo Rabbit” took home TIFF’s Audience Award, and the Inside The Film Room staff got the chance to check out the World War II fantasy satire at Film Fest 919.
Zach Goins: Taika Waititi’s “Jojo Rabbit” is surprisingly endearing. Some hilarious moments, but the satire was not nearly as biting as I was expecting it to be. The entire ensemble is perfect, but the Davis-Yates duo is unmatched.
Josh Martin: After the screening, I just tweeted “Oof.” But I’ll expand a bit: I found Taika Waititi’s “Jojo Rabbit” to be unfunny and needlessly simplistic, a comedy that works best as “Intro to Nazism” for middle schoolers. Its emotional beats work best, but still, a misfire just the same.
ZG: I’d have to go with the reveal of Thomasin Mckenzie’s Elsa being hidden in the house. I loved the way Waititi treated it as if a monster was being discovered in a horror film, when it was really just a little girl. Honorable mention to Sam Rockwell’s opening speech as Captain Klenzendorf.
JM: The haunting discovery of a key supporting character’s dead body, hanging in the streets of the town.
Most Memeable Moment
ZG: Basically any scene with Taika as Adolf. Some quality reaction gifs in there.
JM: I laughed at the moment where Jojo blew himself up with a grenade, leading Sam Rockwell’s character to say, “Don’t do that.” Feel like it would make a good meme.
ZG: I was shocked by how emotional the film got. Heading in, I expected it to be laugh-out-loud funny and pushing the envelope the entire time, but instead, it had some surprisingly tender moments and genuine sadness.
JM: Just how unfunny it was at times. Reviews led me to expect, at worst, a mixed bag, but I found much of the humor to be basic, low-hanging fruit, the type of stuff you would expect a poor Nazi comedy to attempt.
What You Wanted More/Less Of
ZG: For how edgy it was advertised as, I feel like Waititi almost went soft on the true pain of the Holocaust and throughout Nazi Germany. I wish there had been more emphasis on how horrific things really were.
JM: If you’re going to make a movie with Hitler as a young boy’s imaginary friend, lean into that concept. The film never does that, and it feels like an unholy mix of tones that never works.
Who was your favorite ensemble cast member?
ZG: Yorki! Anytime Archie Yates’ lovable sidekick was tagging along with Jojo, there were guaranteed to be tons of laughs. So adorable and absolutely hilarious.
JM: I’m with Zach – Yorki rules. I also enjoyed watching Rockwell’s “benevolent” Nazi screw-up more than I’d care to admit.
Grade out of 100
ZG: 72 out of 100
JM: 42 out of 100
Stay tuned for more reviews and exit survey’s from Film Fest 919 all week long.
Zach Goins is a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association based in Raleigh, N.C. Zach co-founded Inside The Film Room in 2018 and serves as Editor-in-Chief of the website and co-host of the podcast. Zach also serves as a film critic for CLTure.org.