Massively heralded by film festivals worldwide, I found director/actor Taika Waititi’s “Jojo Rabbit” decidedly disturbing commencement, laden with solipsist sensationalism; nearing the end of WWII, German ten-year-old “Jojo” (extraordinary, mesmerizing Roman Griffin) and his imaginary friend Adolf Hitler (Taika Waititi) taut the sardonic blessings of being a paragon of Nazism: blue-eyed, virulent, anti-Semitic Aryans; Jojo, armed and prepared to defend the Reich, is shunned and shamed at a Hitler Youth Camp; led by an inebriated, depleted storm trooper “Captain Klenze” (Sam Rockwell gives another spot-on performance) and “Fraulein Rahm” (Rebel Wilson adds to her comedic repertoire); artfully, laced with biting sarcasm, scathing, but jocular irony, the film’s intent comes to the fore; Hitler’s buffoonery, immature inadequacy is a substitute for a lonely, insecure, fatherless boy whose few years on earth have been molded by sordid, warped propaganda and war.
His life somersaults when he discovers his mother “Rosie” (Scarlett Johansson is scorchingly dynamic) is illicitly harboring a Jewish girl, “Elsa” (quiet, soulful Thomasin McKenzie, “Leave No Trace”); Jojo’s ingrained prejudices begin to fracture as reason topples distorted, fictitious bias. Elsa is the catalyst for JoJo’s buried decency to emerge from his damaged, dirty camouflage: Nazism.
“Jojo Rabbit’s” farcical interpretation of incomprehensible evil, elicits few guffaws; using cunning artifice it unmasks the cancerous soul of a regime doomed by its own demonic egregiousness.
THREE & 1/2 STARS!!!