Combustible Celluloid
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With: Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKenzie, Scarlett Johansson, Taika Waititi, Sam Rockwell, Rebel Wilson, Alfie Allen, Stephen Merchant, Archie Yates, Luke Brandon Field, Sam Haygarth
Written by: Taika Waititi, based on a novel by Christine Leunens
Directed by: Taika Waititi
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for mature thematic content, some disturbing images, violence, and language
Running Time: 108
Date: 10/25/2019

Jojo Rabbit (2019)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Without Fuhrer Ado

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Director Taika Waititi returns from the smash success of Thor: Ragnarok in fine form, and with his sense of smoothly kooky comedy intact. Based on a novel by Christine Leunens, Jojo Rabbit certainly could be offensive to some, but for me it works beautifully, each moment bursting with playfulness (and impeccable timing), and yet never losing sight of kindness. It's so fleet-footed that it'll be worth multiple viewings to catch all the jokes, but also observant enough to slow down when the moment counts. Young Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) lives alone with his mother, Rosie (Scarlett Johansson), and dreams of being a Hitler youth, and even has Adolf himself (Waititi) as an encouraging imaginary friend. Soon he discovers that a Jewish girl, Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie) is living in a secret hiding place in their house. At first he tries "interviewing" her for a book on identifying Jews, for Nazi use, but she plies him with hilariously inaccurate information. Of course, the two soon come to love one another, and even though it's a foregone conclusion, it's immensely satisfying anyway. The entire cast is outstanding, especially Johansson as the upbeat mother, trying to hold it all together while her husband is "away," and Sam Rockwell is brilliantly funny as a wounded Nazi captain who has been transferred to a demeaning post, training Hitler Youths. Rebel Wilson and Stephen Merchant co-star, and with Archie Yates as Jojo's young Nazi pal, who, amazingly, steals almost all his scenes.

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