We now have our first full look at Taika Waititi’s, somewhat controversial, next movie, JoJo Rabbit. Taika became a household name with, the outstanding, Thor: Ragnarok, but he has been smashing it for many years prior to this. I first heard of Taika when he was attached to Flight of the Conchords. This then leads me on to film’s such as Eagle vs Shark, What We Do in the Shadows and Hunt for the Wilderpeople. Now, what has always stood out for me is just how good of a writer he is. Of course his directing is first class, but the stories, characters and worlds he creates are something truly special. His ability to perfectly blend humour with such heartbreaking and emotive scenarios has that “one of a kind” feel to his work. His vision for the stories he wants to tell has such drive and focus, which always benefits the final product. He is a true auteur.
So what about his next film actually about?
“A World War II satire that follows a lonely German boy named Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) whose world view is turned upside down when he discovers his single mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a young Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie) in their attic. Aided only by his idiotic imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler (Taika Waititi), Jojo must confront his blind nationalism.”
If you haven’t done so already, be sure to check the trailer below.
One of the trailer’s strongest aspects is the tonal shift halfway through. The first half is fully focused on the comedy and surreal aspects of the story. A young boy and his imaginary friend Adolf Hitler. Given that humour is being used on top of some very serious subject matter, there was the chance that the film could be taken the wrong way. But then comes the tonal shift, and this is where the trailer elevates the film to a completely different level. Now we are into the (unicorn) meat of the story, the heart, the human drama. Yet, again, this was all interlaced with some really good humour beats sprinkled throughout which just gets that blend just right. The trailer hits that sweet spot. I will say that the Churchill joke didn’t really land for me and I thought Scarlett Johansson’s accent was a little off. But other than that, it is a pretty faultless trailer.
The film is set to be released through Fox Searchlight Pictures and it has been rumoured that there are some Disney executives who are sweating A LOT over this film! In a way that is understandable, given the subject matter. But even though it now operates under the umbrella of ‘The Mouse’, it has always been Fox Searchlight Pictures aim to seek out movies that provoke and spark debate. Films that offer something different but able to bring it to a wider, more mainstream audience. It has also been said, by some critics, that there is an issue of making light of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis and their atrocities. I can kind of understand that augment. Taika Waititi is an EXTREMELY LIKEABLE man, so there is that risk that his charm and ‘lovability’ might blur the lines somewhere. Yet, to counter that, I would say that I fully trust Taika to challenge this notion in the film. The ‘wacky jokey Hitler’ we see in the trailer, will undoubtedly get his comeuppance within the context of the story. Why do I think this? Taika is of Maori and Jewish descent and when asked about playing Hitler he responded with “The answer’s simple, what better fuck you to the guy?”. That to me tells me everything I need to know and any chance of ‘romanticising Hitler’ will be dealt with in a constructive way.
As always, we have picked our top five scenes from the trailer to take a closer look.
5 Things From The Trailer:
Me, Myself and Hitler
I think the use of the German cover of “I’m A Believer” worked on a multitude of levels. It brought in the setting, the mindset and the ‘fun’ to this opening montage. Difficult subject matter interlaced with such campness and flamboyancy. It was stupid, in a good way. This shot, in particular, does an outstanding job of lampooning Hitler, a character that is always a tricky one to pull off, especially when it comes to comedy.
Six Big Boobies
I love Stephen Merchant and here is playing Gestapo agent Captain Deertz. We see Deertz and some of his friends stopping by at JoJo’s house and Merchant plays his arrival perfectly. I mean, he looks the perfect fit. While some may be reminded of Ronald Lacey’s Major Toht from Raiders of the Lost Ark, for me I was drawn straight to Richard Gibson’s Herr Flick from ‘Allo ‘Allo! – I think Merchant has been brilliantly cast here and I look forward to seeing what else he brings to the film.
Dropping Truth Bombs
This, for me, was the mic drop that was needed in the trailer and completely elevated the film’s appeal. Thomasin McKenzie (Elsa) knocks it out of the park with her delivery and body language. “You’re not a Nazi, Jojo. You’re a ten-year-old kid, who likes dressing up in a funny uniform and wants to be part of a club.” – Boom! Absolutely outstanding. I cannot wait to see JoJo and Elsa’s journey together. It is so compelling and intriguing.
I Want To Ride My Bicycle
This sequence is also part of Elsa’s speech. But I wanted to highlight Taika’s directing credentials here. This whole bike ride through the countryside was beautifully shot and edited. The truck full of injured soldiers driving past, again, draws you back into the serious aspects of the time period. This once more hammers home that notion that, yes, this will be a comedy, but it is also going to be so much more than that.
What an exquisitely preposterous and surreal scene. Adolf Hitler tucking into a meaty unicorn head, feasting on such extravagance and quantity, while JoJo looks on with his rationed plate of food before him. Such excellent social commentary that highlighted the inequality of the time. A subtle message with perfect execution.
JoJo Rabbit hits UK cinemas 3rd January 2020.
What did you think about the trailer? Let us know in the comments!