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Jojo Rabbit

Movie review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
Jojo Rabbit Movie Poster Image
Uneven but amusing WWII satire has violence, hate speech.
  • PG-13
  • 2019
  • 108 minutes
Parents recommend

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 11 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 2 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Themes of courage, empathy are clear in sympathetic look at those who are endangered and/or exterminated by Nazi regime. Racism is made to look ridiculous, as is mindless jingoism. Meanwhile, true acts of heroism are given proper, if satiric, weight, and viewers understand the danger of such moves. That said, some viewers may object to lighthearted scenes set among such pain and suffering, may feel concerned that movie doesn't give that pain proper weight. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Characters are complicated, with nuance. Rosie is nothing short of heroic, though viewers don't get to know her inner life as well as Jojo's. Elsa is brave too, suffering loss of her family, country, freedom yet still looking forward to a day when things are different. Jojo is complex, changes over course of movie from proudly racist Nazi to more sympathetic character who better understands suffering of those around him, performs heroic acts despite great personal danger. Terrible things are said about Jewish people, but it's clear that the movie's sympathies lie with them. Fascists are depicted as somewhere between evil and stupid. A young character with a larger body type is described several times as "fat." 

Violence

Though the overall tone is light and satiric, that mood is disrupted by scenes of significant violence -- and characters are constantly in danger: chaotic gun battles with dead bodies and bloody wounds, soldiers in bloody bandages with missing limbs, and hanging bodies of people who were executed by Nazis. A sympathetic character is suddenly killed; another is held as a prisoner of war, and it's implied that he might have been shot (viewers hear soldiers yelling at him and then gunfire). Children are orphaned; one Jewish girl talks about seeing her parents get put on a train to a place "where you don't come back." Young children are armed, sent into battle. A boy is told to snap a rabbit's neck; he refuses, but another boy does it, laughing, and throws the limp body into the forest. 

Sex

A young boy strikes up a friendship with a slightly older girl and gets a crush on her; he tells her he loves her, and she says the same to him, but it's unclear whether the love is romantic or friendly on both parts. She also offers to give him his first kiss; he refuses, saying it would be out of pity. Characters talk about love, comparing it to butterflies in the stomach. A character says her uncle had an "inappropriate relationship" with his niece; she blames it on "Jews." A boy says that he's heard that Russian people "eat babies and have sex with dogs." 

Language

Infrequent swearing includes "s--t," "hell," "ass," "damn," "goddamn," "t-tty," and one "f--k off." There's also a lot of hate speech about Jewish people (they have horns, they sleep upside down like bats, they love money, etc.), and a woman is called a "disgusting Jew-y cow." Even some "good" characters have bad things to say about Jewish people, particularly earlier in the film, but it's clear that the movie's sympathies aren't with racists and fascists. 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

One character frequently drinks from a flask, seems sloppy and slurry; another drinks wine at night and then seems elated. A character tells a young person that when she's older she'll drink "champagne when you're happy, and champagne when you're sad." Jojo's imaginary pal frequently offers him cigarettes; Hitler and others smoke cigarettes in many scenes. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Jojo Rabbit is a satiric comedy from director Taika Waititi about a young boy in Nazi Germany who discovers that his beloved mother is hiding a teenaged Jewish girl. Though many parts of the movie are light and funny, others are deadly serious, with mature subject matter and violence that's disturbing, even if it's not especially gory. There are maimed soldiers, dead bodies, children carrying (and using) machine guns, and the hanging bodies of people executed by Nazis. One sympathetic character is killed suddenly and tragically, altering the tone of the movie. Children are orphaned and in frequent danger. An animal is killed on-screen (a boy twists a rabbit's neck around, then throws the limp body into the woods). Cursing isn't frequent but includes "s--t," "hell," "damn," and one "f--k off." There's also lots of upsetting hate speech about Jewish people and other enemies of the Nazi regime, but the movie's sympathies are clearly with the downtrodden. A boy's imaginary friend is Adolf Hitler, who's depicted as largely supportive and kind, if also a hateful fascist. Characters drink and get variously sloppy or elated, and many smoke cigarettes. The movie offers a nuanced take on a subject that's very difficult to mine humor from: Some people may be offended by its very concept, but it's more thoughtful and funnier than families might expect. Still, it's one that you'll want to talk about afterward. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byBaruch November 4, 2019

Hitler is mocked to death

What a great movie. However, this is not a movie for young children. On the surface this movie is about a little German boy during WWII whose fantasy friend is... Continue reading
Adult Written bySammyLederer October 29, 2019

I’m Jewish and I loved this movie

Many people seemed to be concerned about the lighthearted approach to a holocaust movie. It’s been a 70 years since the holocaust happened and with the passage... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byapostatetrinity October 26, 2019

Satiric, but heavy

The movie is hilarious, but in quite a sad way. It's favors absolutely with no question lie with Jewish people; there's still plenty of dodgy humour,... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byBruh moment November 9, 2019

Shockingly Amazing

This film is an absolutely hilarious satire, yet it also balances the humor out with a lot of emotion and genuine heart. The imaginary friend Hitler scenes are... Continue reading

What's the story?

When lonely 10-year-old German boy Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) messes up his first assignment at a weekend Hitler Youth camp, his fellow campers give him a cruel nickname: JOJO RABBIT. Things are difficult at home, too, particularly when he discovers that his mother, Rosie (Scarlett Johansson), has been hiding a Jewish girl, Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie), from the Gestapo. No wonder Jojo retreats from reality in conversations with his imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler (Taika Waititi). As Jojo confronts the gap between his nationalistic ideals and gritty reality, something's got to give. Will it be Jojo? 

Is it any good?

Most viewers will agree that Nazis aren't funny, but Waititi's comic voice is so ridiculously lovable that, against all odds, this singular movie somehow is -- at least fitfully. At other moments, Jojo Rabbit whipsaws so quickly between light satire and the heaviest tragedy that the uneven tone is bewildering. But before you get there, there's a long, sweet stretch in which viewers get to know the hapless Jojo, who's sympathetically played by the excellent Davis. It's easy to see why a fatherless, lonely, picked-on kid is delighted to put on a uniform and be part of a club that's all the rage among the boys in his town. And it's equally easy to understand why his imaginary friend takes the form of the almighty (to Jojo) Hitler. Even better, Jojo's imagined Hitler doesn't rant and bluster like the real man; instead, he shores up Jojo's confidence with assurances that he's good enough, smart enough, and, gosh darn it, people like him. Except, in real life, mostly they don't, and Jojo is left alone at home to make a dangerous discovery. 

At that point, the movie basically splits into two parts: At home, Jojo's stern prejudices around the Fatherland's sworn nemeses begin to splinter as he gets to know one particular hated enemy. Everywhere else, he keeps up the front of a loyal Hitler Youth corps member. There's plenty of comic gold in the latter: Sam Rockwell's profane Captain Klenzendorf has a Captain Jack Sparrow vibe that's a kick, Rebel Wilson is reliably hilarious as a fervently pious woman in uniform, and viewers quickly learn to sit up and pay attention anytime Jojo's pricelessly endearing sole friend, Yorki (Archie Yates), appears on-screen. But then a devastating event brings all the funny to a screeching halt, and we're left with Jojo, picking up the pieces at the end and wondering, despite the relatively cheerful closing scene, what on Earth did we just watch? Perhaps this, too, was part of Waititi's grand plan, to loosen viewers up with humor before delivering a walloping gut punch of seriousness. But if it sends viewers out of the theater with wrinkled-up "Huh?" faces, it will hardly be a surprise. At moments, this movie is good, even great. But it's hard to know what Waititi was going for, or even how to feel about what you've just seen. Jojo Rabbit is a good time, until it isn't. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the time period in which Jojo Rabbit is set. Do Jojo's feelings toward Jewish people and other "enemies" of the Third Reich seem authentic for a boy growing up in that time and place? Are the things he says and feels offensive to you? Does that detract from the humor? Why or why not? 

  • What other stories, TV shows, or movies have you read, heard, or watched about World War II? How many of these stories were told from the point of view of German people who adhered to the Nazi party? Why do you think that point of view is relatively rare, at least for those consuming media in America? Is it difficult to sympathize with? Why? Would it be harder to sympathize if Jojo were an adult? 

  • How do Jojo, Rosie, and Elsa demonstrate courage and empathy? Why are these important character strengths? Do any other characters in this movie show these qualities? What about Captain Klenzendorf? In what ways is this complicated character courageous and empathetic? In what ways is he reprehensible? 

Movie details

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