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“Jojo Rabbit”: The Movie of Coming of Age and Love

Jerry Hubbard

Staff Writer

March 4, 2022

It feels like it’s been ages since 2019, from the first image of a black hole to the end of what we now call the Infinity Saga. This was the year “Jojo Rabbit” was released, directed by Taika Watiki, the man behind the popular film “Thor Ragnarok.”

“Jojo Rabbi”t follows an eleven-year-old boy named Jojo through his coming of age journey. The movie takes place in the last 6 months of World War II as he blows himself up while part of the Hitler Youth, meets a Jewish girl named Elsa, and finally, comes to understand his place in the world.

I followed “Jojo Rabbit” up until it debuted in theaters back in 2019. I was sold on the movie by the presence of a coming of age story based on one of modern history’s darkest periods, plus an imaginary friend named Adolf, played by Watiki, who is Jewish himself. A common theme that I see through Watiki’s notable works like “Thor: Ragnarok'' and “What We Do in The Shadows'' is that his works center on dark topics (people trying to survive a calamity or out-of-touch people trying to fit into modern times) and he addresses the matter light-heartedly. I’ll try my best to not completely deconstruct the movie, as it would lead to certain aspects being unveiled that should stay hidden for a first-time viewer.

Searchlight Pictures, Jojo Rabbit with Sam Rockwell as Captain Klenzendorf, Scarlet Johanson as Rosie, and Roman Griffin Davis Jojo.

The theme of dark topics that are addressed light-heartedly, is seen in “Jojo Rabbit” in how the movie treats the ridiculous members of the Nazi party. Rosie is able to humiliate Captain Klenzendorf in front of all of his fellow coworkers, as his incompetence and ridiculousness (and those of his peers) are what leads to Jojo blowing himself up. With the saturated colors, the movie comes off like watching a sitcom, where you see a small segment of a person’s life with each situation the characters face having a setup, resolution, and a punchline at the end. Adolf makes a comment to Jojo that he eats unicorns, and at the final dinner scene, Adolf is literally eating the head of a unicorn. Watiki’s style is the reason why the movie is able to feel so light while centering around the dark subject of the Nazi fanaticism.

There’s no other mom in the history of movies that compares to Jojo’s mom. Rosie is the best mother in film history; Superman’s mom can’t compare. Rosie deals with the death of her daughter, fights for freedom against the Nazis, takes care of Jojo, and brings in Elsa all by herself.

Screenlight Pictures, Jojo Rabbit with Scarlet Johanson as Rosie, Roman Giffin Davis as Jojo.

Rosie's the reason that Captain Klenzendorf protects Jojo. Klenzendof saw the good in her: the good that makes her a resilient fighter, the good that makes her protect her daughter’s friend, and the good that she instilled into Jojo. I haven't seen a character like her in any other movies. Typically parents are relegated to background characters or a means to an end for another character's growth. Rosie serves to show Jojo how good the world truly is; she is the reason Jojo comes to understand the ridiculous predicament he’s in. Scarlet Johanson does a terrific job playing her.

While Adolf was Jojo’s imaginary friend, Adolf to me is a representation of who Jojo could have become if he followed what the propaganda said. He is what held Jojo back. He is the reason that Jojo created a rift with his mom, and he is the reason that Jojo was lost in a false reality.

Searchlight Pictures, Jojo Rabbit with Taika Watiki as Adolf, Roman, Giffin Davis as Jojo, and Sam Rockwell as Captain Klenzendorf.

When Jojo followed those who wanted the best for him, like Captain Klenzendof and his mother, he was able to break free from his toxic “best friend.” Jojo joins the real world once he ties Elsa’s shoes. Elsa is the girl Caption Klenzenof and his mother protected, and Jojo grows fond of her throughout this rollercoaster. This is how Jojo is able to break free from his toxic friend.

Out of everything that I watched and had the opportunity to write about, I chose “Jojo Rabbit” because this movie is a mix of comedy and suspenseful drama, a great story, and filmed by a popular director. This is a movie where you can travel to witness a tale not told before. In the years since I first watched the movie up till today, the movie holds up. “Jojo Rabbit” is a movie that no one should miss out on watching.

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