“Jojo Rabbit” fails as satire about Hitler

Jojo Rabbit (Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKenzie, Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, Taika Waititi, Rebel Wilson) – Jojo Rabbit is another rip-roaring film about Adolf Hitler or, more descriptively, a member of the Hitler Youth whose enthusiasm for the Fuhrer wanes as he gets to know the Jewish girl his mother is hiding in their house.  I am being facetious, of course. There haven’t been a lot of movies depicting Hitler as a funny guy, in this case influencing the imagination of a young 10-year-old, Jojo (Golden Globe nominee Roman Griffin Davis), whose goal is become Adolf’s friend.

The movie is a spoof, a comedy of sorts.  It attempts to be Springtime for Hitler (from The Producers) with a cavalcade of silly Nazis – Hitler (writer/director/star New Zealander Taika Waititi), polite SS officers, and the disgraced head of the Hitler Youth (Sam Rockwell as Captain Klenzendorf).  The latter is running an office full of idiots and misfits, including Fraulein Rahm (Rebel Wilson) and some male assistant with whom Klenzendorf is apparently attracted.

I would describe the plot, but I kept falling asleep.  I was awake to see Scarlett Johansson play Jojo’s mother, Rosie, a surprisingly normal, fun-loving, free-spirited German who is providing shelter for a young Jewish girl, Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie).  Johansson’s performance garnered an Oscar nomination for Supporting Actress despite very little screen time.

The underlying story is more serious, of course. Jojo gets close to Elsa and finds out that Jews are real people.  As he gets to know Elsa, he falls out of love with Hitler.  By the end of the film, Elsa is freed, Jojo has matured, and Rosie is dead (sorry for the spoiler!).

Jojo Rabbit (you’ll find out why Jojo got this nickname) is another movie that audiences liked and critics (by and large) didn’t.  The film feels a bit like a West Anderson pic in the spirit of The Grand Budapest Hotel or a Mel Brooks spoof, but it just doesn’t cut it.

I am going out on a limb here: Jojo Rabbit will not win any of the six Academy Awards for which it has been nominated.  At least, I hope not.

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