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What Critics Think of Hitler Satire Jojo Rabbit

Director-actor Taika Waititi praised for 'hilarious' turn as the fuhrer
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 8, 2019 10:19 AM CST

(Newser) – A member of Hitler Youth who counts der Fuhrer as an imaginary friend uncovers a Jewish girl hiding in his house in Jojo Rabbit, a satirical take on Nazi Germany from director Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok), who plays Hitler himself. Expect laughs and a lesson, according to critics, who give the film an 78% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, not quite as high as the 97% audience score. Four takes:

  • It's "a sweet celebration of emotional growth and the realization that we don't have to be chained to bad ideas inculcated since childhood," writes Cary Darling at the Houston Chronicle. "Waititi manages to walk the fine line between fantasy and drama, humor and wartime horror without losing his balance," he adds. The result is a successful delivery of the film's message, "which the world may need more than ever."
  • "To those saying irreverent, edgy, provocative envelope-pushing satire is dead, Taika Waititi replies: Hold my beer. Hold my ice-cold, overflowing, massive mug of German ale and hops," Richard Roeper begins his review at the Chicago Sun-Times. He heralds the director's "timely, anti-hate fractured fairy tale" that urges viewers "to be better." Waititi is also "hilarious" as Hitler, while Scarlett Johansson turns in one of the best performances of her career as Jojo's mother," who holds a secret.

  • It's "not a fully realized or satisfying movie, but rather more of an odd duck," according to Brian Lowry. While Waititi gives "a sense of the horrors that the Nazis inflicted, the fairy-tale-like trappings and fantasy element can't help but round and soften those edges, at times uncomfortably so," he writes at CNN, finding a tad too much buffoonery in the Nazi roles.
  • The film is strange, yes, but also "openhearted" and "delicate" as it warns viewers to stay vigilant against hate when "nearly every other news story these days addresses some problem that has sprung from hatred of 'the other,'" writes Stephanie Zacharek at Time. She concludes "it's Waititi's ability to balance unassailably goofy moments with an acknowledgment of real-life horrors that makes the movie exceptional."
(Read more movie review stories.)

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