Taika Waititi brings us a WWII Comedy

Taika Waititi, the director who impersonated Hitler.


Taika Waititi, the director who impersonated Hitler.

Back on Oct. 18, a film called “Jojo Rabbit” was released in theatres. Though to be clear, it seems more like select theatres, seeing as if you heard about the film you probably had a hard time finding a place to see it, and if you saw it, you probably had trouble finding a convenient time to do so.

I myself had to go to a movie theatre at about four in the afternoon, any more convenient time being found at the more expensive theatres that screen the more artsy, pretentious or simply kinda-out-there movies.

“Jojo Rabbit” certainly falls in the latter category. Director Taika Waititi is the mastermind behind this strange movie that offers the uncommonly comedic lense to the overused World War Two narrative.

It’s important to point out the backdrop of this time period being so overused, as we see so many other movies take on this heavy time period with more dramatic and serious tones, like “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” or more recently Christpher Nolan’s “Dunkirk.” Whereas movies such as these are member to a respectful sort of memorial purpose in preserving the time period in cinema, Waititi has chosen to offer a blatantly humorous perspective.

The movie centers on young Jojo, an amicable Aryan boy living in Nazi Germany and basically a member of Hitler Youth, played by newcomer Roman Griffin Davis who truly does shine in this film.

Jojo is a precocious lad who has been seduced by Hitler and his powerful speech, much like the rest of Germany. While adult Nazis have no excuse, we are able to permit Jojo our attention because he is a child, who as it turns out may not be as sold on Hitler’s ideals as the movie proceeds.

As you can see in any of the trailers that have been out for months, it turns out there’s a Jewish girl hiding in the walls of his house, and so our story finds its momentum for young Jojo’s coming-of-age. Still, we can laugh at this young boy who covers his bedroom with Nazi parafanalia and posters like they were rockstars or superheros.

And that’s just what Waititi has done with this oddly comedic take on one of the most horrific times; he turned it into a coming of age movie. A young boy whose world is ruled by adults with blind and harsh convictions who face their own comeuppance around him everyday finds his way through it all with just his own goals to drive him forward. Be it the advancement to Hitler’s personal guard, or just sweet companionship as it does end up shifting to.

If you have any philosophical concerns about adding comedy to WWII, I suggest you throw it to the wind for the sake of farce. And if you can’t do that, try and imagine how it might relate to those who still can’t help but blindly follow harsh convictions. Maybe there’s a sliver of hope to be found in the movie.

And aside from all the implications and ramifications of the movie’s subject matter, the boy’s imaginary friend is Taika Waititi in a Hitler costume, who is just as naive as Jojo for the greater duration of the film. It’s true, some of the best parts of the movie are watching an impish Hitler counsel a little boy on the turmoil of his life, and seeing him charge through random scenes. And Waititi still does well to make sure that even the imaginary form of Hitler takes a dark turn along with the movie.

Go see it. Refresh yourself with a bit of farcical nonsense at the expense of an already hated historical personality. Laugh at Jojo’s surprisingly witty and pudgy best friend who is thrown into battle at the ripe age of maybe ten years old, or at Rebel Wilson as she leads a group of junior Nazis to burn books like a bonfire at summer camp. Waititi has nailed it, finally a movie where you can laugh at Hitler.

It’s all simply hilarious, and a much needed breath of levity.