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Jojo Rabbit (2019)

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Reggie W, May 14, 2019.

  1. Reggie W

    Reggie W Producer

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    [​IMG]
    Title: Jojo Rabbit

    Genre: Comedy, War

    Director: Taika Waititi

    Cast: Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKenzie, Taika Waititi, Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, Rebel Wilson, Alfie Allen, Stephen Merchant, Luke Brandon Field, Joe Weintraub, Brian Caspe, James McVan, Judith Georgi, Archie Yates, Victoria Hogan, Bethany Adams

    Release Date:

    Runtime: 0

    Plot: Jojo Rabbit is about a young boy living during World War II. His only escapism is through his imaginary friend, an ethnically inaccurate version of Adolf Hitler, who pushes the young boy's naive patriotic beliefs. However, this all changes when a young girl challenges those views and causes Jojo to face his own issues.
     
  2. Reggie W

    Reggie W Producer

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    Jojo Rabbit.
     
  3. Message #3 of 26 May 14, 2019
    Last edited: May 14, 2019
    Jake Lipson

    Jake Lipson Lead Actor

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    Fox Searchlight dating this for October 18 means Disney will have two releases on that date.

    Of course, I'd imagine the overlap between this and Maleficent 2 is negligible, so that'll work out.

    I'm really looking forward to seeing this.

    Thomasin McKenzie was brilliant in Leave No Trace and I'm glad she is continuing to get work. Obviously I've already been a fan of Taika Waititi's for a while, and Scarlett Johansson and Sam Rockwell are great too. Rebel Wilson is great when the material she's working with lets her be. This cast is really fantastic, and I'm looking forward to seeing what Waititi does with them.

    Also, what a complete shift from Thor Ragnarok. After the success of that movie, Waititi could probably have done anything he wanted, so it's great that he went back to a smaller project he cares about.

    I wonder when we'll see the trailer.
     
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  4. Josh Dial

    Josh Dial Producer

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    He's also doing the What We Do in the Shadows tv adaptation (which is terrific).
     
  5. ScottJH

    ScottJH Supporting Actor

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    Trailer dropped today.
     
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  6. Edwin-S

    Edwin-S Lead Actor
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    This film looks like an interesting take on Hitler and Nazi Germany. Not sure it is worth seeing it in a theater though. Don't really want to feed Disney's maw if I can avoid it. Probably will have to wait until it is on some service that Disney doesn't own.
     
  7. JoeStemme

    JoeStemme Agent

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    Films have parodied the Nazis even while WWII raged, including everyone from Chaplin to The Three Stooges to Mel Brooks. Enter Taiki Waititi seemingly channeling Wes Anderson in JOJO RABBIT. Waititi turns up the trademark Anderson Twee barometer to 11 right from the outset. A ten year old Hitler Youth to be named Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) has an imaginary friend. And, he's not just your typical fanciful pal, but Hitler himself (Waititi). The Fake Fuhrer has a goofy grin and prances about like a reject from a Dresden burlesque show. The effect is like an even sillier Hogan's Heroes for a while.
    Fortunately, things settle down once a teenage Jewish girl in hiding is introduced - Elsa, played by the terrific young actress Thomasin McKenzie (LEAVE NO TRACE). Elsa becomes the heart and soul of the movie and keeps it grounded. Jojo's mom (Scarlett Johansson) also brings some gravitas to the story despite also being a bit of a caricature at the outset. Jojo and Elsa strike up a guarded friendship of sorts despite being on 'opposite' sides - and, of course, the constant pestering of Fake Fuhrer (not to mention the intrusions of the Gestapo represented here by Captain Klenzendorf (Sam Rockwell) and Fraulein Rahm (Rebel Wilson). Rockwell and Wilson are out-sized cartoon villains who also seemingly have studied every frame of Wes Anderson's guide to broad acting. Archie Yates is genuinely affecting as Jojo's hapless friend Yorki.

    JOJO RABBIT, despite far too many arch attempts at humor, eventually does get it points across. The music choices (often intentionally anachronistic) usually work (particularly for the touching coda), and Mihai Malaimare Jr.'s cinematography has some exceptional compositions. The Elsa/Jojo relationship garners some genuine moments of pathos and warmth (something Anderson rarely achieves). Waititi obviously means well, but, he is is own worst enemy as he himself turns in the most grating performance of all as Fake Fuhrer and wrote the screenplay (based on a novel). Every time McKenzie and Davis do their best to elevate the uneven storyline, Fake Fuhrer interrupts the flow and the mood. It is no exaggeration to say that the movie would be vastly improved with excision of the character entirely. At the very least, Waititi fails to give the gimmick a real reason to be. The irony is too mild, the arc so narrow that the character becomes virtually meaningless.
    JOJO RABBIT is affecting on a certain level, but for a movie that bills itself as "An Anti-Hate Satire" it's pretty weak tea. Making a movie with Hitler as a sidekick will offend some just on it's face, so you may as well bring something much more cutting to justify it, but Waititi is more content with playing nice. For a parable about a youth in Germany during this period with teeth, seek out Volker Schlöndorff's masterful THE TIN DRUM (based on Gunter Grass' novel). JOJO is more akin to Roberto Bengini's benign if also affecting LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL.
     
  8. bujaki

    bujaki Producer

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    I'm looking forward to this film. I just wanted to point out that before Mel Brooks there was Lubitsch's To Be or not to Be, made during WWII.
     
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  9. JoeStemme

    JoeStemme Agent

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    I did note that both Chaplin and The Three Stooges had taken jabs (even earlier than the Lubitsch, let alone Mel Brooks) jabs at Hitler: "films have parodied the Nazis even while WWII raged, including everyone from Chaplin to The Three Stooges"
     
  10. bujaki

    bujaki Producer

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    Yes, you did. I just wanted to make sure Lubitsch got credit before Brooks.
     
  11. Message #11 of 26 Nov 1, 2019
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2019
    JoeStemme

    JoeStemme Agent

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    Sorry, yes: I was referring to THE PRODUCERS much more than Brooks' soft remake.
     
  12. Mike2001

    Mike2001 Supporting Actor

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    Saw this yesterday as my A-list title. It held my attention but I think I need to see it again. I came out not sure what to make of it.
     
  13. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Director

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    Caught a matinee this afternoon with my friend at the local art house theater. It's second behind Avengers: Endgame for me as the best movie of the year so far.

    It's a beautiful manifesto on the power of humanity -- decency, empathy, imagination, and joy -- to persevere even in the most inhumane conditions.

    Please be forewarned that spoilers will follow. Stop reading now if you want to go in completely fresh.

    One thing it does wonderfully is deglamorize the Nazi regime. Usually in movies, the Nazis are a unique level of evil or a particularly exotic flavor of evil. Jo Jo Rabbit understands that the truth is both more banal than that and more insidious than that. It was a government led by human beings, shaped by a particular political ideology, with all of the usual things we would expect from an ideological movement. The difference here being that the ideology is both ludicrous and appalling -- the film is careful to capture both qualities.

    The big calling card for the film is that the title character's imaginary friend is Adolf Hitler, played by the writer/director Taika Waititi in a Chaplin-esque turn. The imaginary Hitler serves an important purpose, which is to personify Jo Jo's ideological brainwashing. The movie takes place in 1944 and 1945, during the final months of the European theater of World War II. Hitler had been the Führer Jo Jo's entire life, and all of society was built around conditioning him to accept and internalize the Nazi ideology. The relationship between Jo Jo and the imaginary Adolf, who is by turns ridiculous and terrifying, mirrors Jo Jo's own engagement with the worldview he'd been raised with, and which his parents had quietly opposed.

    The cast is phenomenal. Scarlett Johansson gives a career-best performance as Rosie, Jo Jo's anti-fascist mother. In a world that is trying to stamp out beauty and and frivolity and individuality and kindness, Rosie quietly tries to nurture her son's humanity while at the same time holding no illusions about the grip that Nazism holds on him.

    Likewise, Sam Rockwell is terrific as the increasingly disillusioned Nazi captain who crosses paths with Jo Jo repeatedly during a series of demotions. Captain Klenzendorf is someone who was born in the wrong place at the wrong time, and entrusted with a position of authority completely unsuited to his skills and sensibility. As one small cog in this vast machinery of death, it can be said that he was less cruel and less horrible than he was expected to be. The body language between him and Alfie Allen's character helps explain why he might have been less susceptible than most to the bill of goods that was being sold to the country.

    Thomasin McKenzie is wonderful as Elsa, the Jewish teenager hiding in the crawlspace behind the wall of the bedroom that used to belong to jo Jo's dead sister. The parallels to Anne Frank are obvious, but McKenzie plays Elsa like the mischievous lively girl of Anne Frank's diaries, and not the stoic martyr of our collective cultural memory. Everything that Jo Jo believes is bullshit, and she's not shy about mocking him for it -- even though the stakes for her are literally life and death. McKenzie might have had the hardest job in the movie, because we've got to believe that Elsa could deprogram Jo Jo's brainwashing through the sheer power of proximity. At the same time, she's got to convincingly play a 17-year-old girl in mortal danger who has seen everybody she loves die or be carted off to be killed. The vulnerability of her scenes with Rosie when Jo Jo is not around provide a compelling contrast to the steel that she brings to her contentious back and forth with Jo Jo.

    Roman Griffin Davis is kind of a miracle as the title character. He was ten when he shot the movie. There are only probably six scenes or so in the movie that he's not in. The journey of the movie takes place almost entirely inside Jo Jo's head. This kid charts with incredible precision; there isn't a false note in his performance the entire movie. We believe he's a Nazi true believer, and we also believe that Rosie isn't wrong to hold out hope for his intellectual and moral awakening. So much of what captures Jo Jo's evolution is entirely conveyed on Roman Griffin Davis's face.

    The final beat of the film is perfect. It conveys both a feeling and an important idea. The audience unclenches with the protagonists. You really feel the liberation that they were feeling in that moment. The rare movie about Nazis with a happy, life-affirming ending.
     
  14. Message #14 of 26 Nov 3, 2019
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2019
    Jake Lipson

    Jake Lipson Lead Actor

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    Saw it today. Loved it. Agree with pretty much everything @Adam Lenhardt said.

    However, one thing didn't really make sense to me. I'm going to put it under spoiler brackets.

    After his mother dies, how is it that Jojo and Elsa can just go on living in the house? I mean, who is paying for the house, and how do no adults come for him again to take him into some sort of care situation? It's not entirely clear how much time elapses between his mom's death and the end of the movie, but multiple characters give condolences on his mother's passing, so it's a known thing in the community that she was killed, especially in the way her body was displayed. And yet...they just go on living there. He's ten; can he take care of himself, prepare all his own food, take care of all the household chores, etc.? Or is Elsa doing that for him? If so, that would require her to be inside the house but not inside her secret space more frequently. Is he just going to live there indefinitely or what?

    Everybody in the film is fantastic, but the seasoned adult actors being good is not a surprise. Good on Waititi for finding Roman Griffin Davis for this. It's remarkable that Waititi was able to find him and get this performance out of him at this age. I don't know how much experience Davis had before this film, but he makes it seem so natural and authentic. He gets us to care about him even though we know he's obviously in the wrong at the beginning of the film. Watching his growth throughout the movie is really compelling.

    Thomasin McKenzie is an absolute boss. I think she should have had an Oscar nomination for Leave No Trace last year, and she should again this year for this film, but I doubt they'll give it to her. She owned every scene she was in, taking full command of the screen whenever she was there, and I missed her when she wasn't. I'm so glad to see her continuing to get good roles in interesting films, and I look forward to seeing her career flourish for years to come.
     
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  15. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Director

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    With regard to your spoiler, Jake: It's spring 1945 by that point in the movie. The Western Allies had already invaded Germany from the West, and the Soviets were fighting their way through German-occupied Poland from the East. Hitler's death was imminent. Most of the adult men of fighting age were off fighting. None of the social apparatuses that would question a young child living on his own were operating by that point. We see Jo Jo picking through trash cans for food at that point, and I would bet he was far from the only one in his town doing that by that point in the story.
     
  16. steve jaros

    steve jaros Supporting Actor

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    Saw JJR yesterday and thoroughly enjoyed it. Excellent cast, writing, and satire. I've seen 140 movies in theaters this year, JJR is in my top ten.

    A-
     
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  17. Ross Gowland

    Ross Gowland Stunt Coordinator

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    Just back from a well-attended screening here in the UK where the film has just opened.

    I thought the first fifteen minutes or so were merely fine, but then it really hit its stride and was excellent from then on. Casting was spot-on. If I had to choose a star it’d be Sam Rockwell, but everyone was terrific and in my cinema Stephen Merchant got the biggest laughs. Rebel Wilson did very well with a limited screen-time too.

    Visually it looked amazing with the era beautifully recreated.

    My only real qualm with it was
    that it implied that American troops executed newly-arrested German POWs and even grabbed an obvious young boy (Jojo) to be essentially murdered. That seemed a hell of an accusation to make.
     
  18. Jake Lipson

    Jake Lipson Lead Actor

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    Overheard at the theater box office the other day when I was waiting in line to buy tickets, as a guy in front of me looked up at the marquee: "Jojo Rabbit - PG-13? What is that about? What kind of rabbit movie would be PG-13?"

    :laugh:
     
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  19. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Director

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    I believe that:
    ...it was Soviet troops that summarily executed the captured Nazis. It seemed like the American troops were coming from one direction, and the Soviet troops from the other direction.

    The Nazis had put the Soviets through hell, and the Red Army committed well documented atrocities during its subsequent invasion of Germany: mass executions of civilians, and mass rapes numbering between the hundreds of thousands to as many as a couple million.

    However, the hands of American forces were not exactly clean, either.

    War is a hell of a thing, and none of us really know what we would do until we find ourselves in it.
     
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  20. Hollywoodaholic

    Hollywoodaholic Edge of Glory?

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    Easily the most moving, absurd, whimsical, scary, war-is-insanity film for me since King of Hearts.
     

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