'Jojo Rabbit' tells the tale of a 10-year-old Hitler Youth (played by Roman Griffith Davis) who discovers his mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie) in their attic. Taika Waititi stars as an imaginary version of Adolf Hitler, while also writing and directing; Sam Rockwell, Rebel Wilson and Alfie Allen also star. […]

'Jojo Rabbit' tells the tale of a 10-year-old Hitler Youth(played by Roman Griffith Davis) who discovers his mother (Scarlett Johansson)is hiding a Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie) in their attic. Taika Waititi starsas an imaginary version of Adolf Hitler, while also writing and directing; SamRockwell, Rebel Wilson and Alfie Allen also star.

This film has been subject of anticipation, skepticism andcriticism for quite some time, and its light portrayal of Nazi Germany has ledsome to make comparisons to 1997's 'Life Is Beautiful' (a great film in its ownright). Folk need to get a grip, because as Waititi has spoken on, trying tocomplain about and shut down a film that uses a dark subject matter for comedyis playing into the very mindset that those people are upset about in the firstplace. 'Jojo Rabbit' may not break new ground (Nazis are bad, 1940s were a darktime for certain people, no one needs that refresher course) but what it lacksin true danger it makes up for in heart.

Children actors can be hit or miss, and this is one of thosetimes where it is a straight bullseye. As the titular Jojo, Roman GriffithDavis is a star in the making, with a cute face and tousled hair, and enough facialexpressions he could fill an emoji board. Asked to carry most every singlescene of the film, and sometimes act alongside his director, a grown man in aHitler outfit, Davis does a near-masterful job, giving us fantastic deadpandelivery, emotional glances or heart-breaking reactions. There were times hisdelivery of Waititi's script was so sharp the audience laughed over thesucceeding lines of dialogue, including one phrase that had people in actualtears.

The supporting cast all turn in great work, too, including ArchieYates as Jojo's fellow Hitler Youth friend, Sam Rockwell as his scene-stealing SSCaptain and Scarlett Johansson as the sympathetic 'stop-and-smell-the-roses'mother. They are all given great lines from Waititi and don't step on eachother's toes, and you get excited whenever they show up on screen. As imaginaryfriend Hitler, Waititi is essentially playing the Führer if he was mixed with'Mean Girls'' Regina George, and if the idea of Adolf Hitler looking at a10-year-old boy after an argument and saying 'well… that was intense!' is notfunny (or worse, offensive) to you then I don't want to be friends with youanyways.

The production and costume designs of 1940s Germany are alsocommendable, full of color and detail. We've see war-torn Europe in film dozensof times before, and 'Jojo Rabbit' gets its chance to flash everything fromopen fields to obligatory post-bombed city squares, but it is always impressivewhen a filmmaker can transport you to a time period.

Now the area that may lose some people, beyond thelight-hearted take on something as evil as the Nazis, is that the film ispretty cut-and-dry. Very few, if any, of the characters are shades of grey;you're either a good guy or a bad one, and even the evolution of Jojo out ofhis indoctrination at times does not feel earned. Sam Rockwell's character isreally the only one who gets any real arc or a sense of 'there's more to thischaracter than we see in the 110 minutes we're with them,' and it's probablywhy (on top of being incredible in everything he touches, sans 'Vice') Rockwellwas my favorite part of the film.

'Jojo Rabbit' was a festival darling and time will tell ifit is an awards contender, too; but I don't think it truly needs hardware to justifyitself. It manages to deliver numerous laughs in spite of a potentially darksubject matter, and at the same time lets the audience laugh at the expense ofsome of the worst humans that ever walked the earth. Does it play things toosafe and contrive some drama? Sure. But the film is feel-good and funny, and in2019 that's not something I for one am going to turn away.

Critics Rating: 8/10