Jojo Rabbit: A Film Review

The image is a still from Jojo Rabbit, where Taika Waitit portrays Hilter and Roman Griffin Davis portrays Jojo (Image courtesy of IMDB).

The image is a still from Jojo Rabbit, where Taika Waitit portrays Hilter and Roman Griffin Davis portrays Jojo (Image courtesy of IMDB).

Aidan Herklotz

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DISCLAIMER: This article contains spoilers and opinions. Also, if you don’t like “sensitive” subjects you probably should stop reading now. You have been warned…

Heil Honey, I’m Home was a sitcom from 1990 about Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun living in New York. The plot mostly centered around Hitler’s hate for his Jewish neighbors the Goldsteins. It was mostly a spoof on 1950’s/60’s era sitcoms (i.e. I Love Lucy), while also being a spoof on 1930’s/40’s European politics. As you can expect, this show was cancelled after one episode. This article is not about this show, but it is good to keep in mind when trying to make a comedic Hitler.

JoJo Rabbit is a satire film from 2019 centering around JoJo Betzler, who is a German boy being trained as part of the Hitler youth. He lives in Berlin with his mother, who just happens to resent the Nazis. Jojo eventually discovers that his mother is hiding a Jewish girl in the walls, who he obviously does not like. Oh, and did I mention his imaginary best-friend is Adolf Hitler? 

Hitler is played by the creator of the film, Taika Waititi, which is probably a sign that Waititi really wanted this character done right. It also might be a sign that if everybody found this portrayal offensive, he would be the one to take the fall. Luckily, I don’t find this portrayal offensive, so he is in the clear. Waititi does what Heil Honey I’m Home failed to do: make Hitler a bad guy while also being funny. This sounds easier than it actually is. Yes, Hitler from Heil Honey hates his Jewish neighbors, but it’s not because they are Jewish–it’s because they’re annoying and unlikable stereotypes. The Jewish character (henceforth referred to as Elsa) is a likable and sympathetic character (a Jewish character living during the Holocaust should be sympathetic). Doing this makes Hitler’s hate of Elsa seem genuine, instead of making Hitler sympathetic.

Another good way to make Hitler funny is to make him completely absurd. Hitler does some crazy things in this movie, like eating a unicorn. I don’t know about you, but I don’t do that on a daily basis. The absurdity takes place completely within a child’s mind, so Taika Waititi could make Hitler as crazy as possible. Hitler doesn’t even speak like a real person (or Hitler, for that matter). It also helps that Waititi himself is playing Hitler, since this guy is hilarious. Waititi makes Hitler sound like he’s in a child’s mind, and his German accent makes me laugh every time. 

But Jojo Rabbit isn’t all about Hitler, it also tells a story that makes the tragedies of the Holocaust accessible to a wider audience. Yes, there are so many good films about how the holocaust affected the Jewish people, but many filmgoers aren’t interested, or just don’t understand this. JoJo Rabbit puts you in the eyes of a Nazi learning how the Jews were truly affected by the German people, and learning how to not hate them, which is very unlike how Nazi Germany has taught them. 

Jojo Rabbit is a film that seamlessly blends comedy and tragedy in a way that I’ve never seen before, and you should absolutely watch it. If this doesn’t get nominated for an Oscar, I’m gonna be very disappointed.