Growing up Nazi with Laughs and Enlightenment

With “Jojo Rabbit,” writer/director Taika Waititi (“Thor: Ragnarok”) trains his acerbic comic lens on war-torn Germany in the early 1940s. Told from the perspective of a 10-year-old boy named Jojo, this schismatic, seriocomic narrative will divide audiences provoking arguments aplenty.

In the waning days of World War II, Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) and his mother, Rosie (Scarlett Johansson), live an anxious life in Nazi Germany. Jojo has joined the Hitler Youth, which requires him to buy, hook-line-and-sinker, into anti-Semitic propaganda. He’s lost his soldier father to the unforgiving battlefield, and his older sister has died.

To make matters worse, the Führer, Adolf Hitler, is Jojo’s imaginary best friend. Whenever the little boy is wavering in support of the Nazi cause, Adolf (played by director Waititi) shows up to set him straight. Hitler is the helpful, zany, devil on his shoulder, always whispering bitter nothings into the impressionable child’s ear. But Jojo’s make-believe pal only looks like the dreaded, murderous leader. Like so much in this imaginative, unique movie, nothing is what it seems.

Read Jonathan’s full review online and in print in the Times-Herald and on

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