The absurdity of the modern world has seemingly rendered parody obsolete, and comedy continues to struggle with knowing which events and people can be made fun of without alienating large numbers of people. So of course Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi went out in 2019 and made Jojo Rabbit, a satirical film featuring himself as a ridiculous Hitler, the imaginary best friend to a Nazi Youth who learns his mother is hiding a young Jewish girl in their home. But does that mean the popular filmmaker with his own unique style pulled off such a delicate story? Based on the first reactions to the movie, which just had its world premiere at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, the answer from the majority is a resounding yes, but not everyone was sold.
This movie’s a joy. https://t.co/Nj2dSFBZnz
— Rian Johnson (@rianjohnson) September 9, 2019
Those who loved the movie really, really loved it, with many praising it for being far more emotional than they were prepared for.
I want to keep Jojo Rabbit near my heart for all time. It’s a wondrous story of friendship and understanding that needs to be mandatory viewing for everyone of all ages at this sad time of division in the world. This is a story that will make you hope again #TIFF19
— Igor Shteyrenberg (@igor_s__) September 9, 2019
JOJO RABBIT is so sweet and funny and full of love. Waititi dances so effortlessly between moods, testing limits and trying everything you never expect. Stephen Merchant steals his bits; Sam Rockwell is SO good #TIFF19
— Emma Stefansky (@stefabsky) September 9, 2019
Tonight, I got to attend the world premiere of Taika Waititi’s, Jojo Rabbit. It was absolutely incredible! Beyond. Everyone must see this movie when it comes out October 18th! ? #TIFF #jojorabbit @ Princess of Wales… https://t.co/3U6a6fdY5d
— nichole geddes (@nicholeberger) September 9, 2019
JOJO RABBIT is perfect. It’s charming and hilarious and sweet but never shies away from being dark, tragic and scary. We are privileged to share time with Taika Waititi. It’s exactly what we need right now. #TIFF19
— Smashy Slashy ? @ tiff (@smashtraves) September 9, 2019
JOJO RABBIT: It is with a heavy heart that I admit child actors can be good… but only in Taika Waititi movies.
— kateyrich (@kateyrich) September 9, 2019
Holy hell, “Jojo Rabbit” is fantastic #TIFF19
— Stuart Oldham (@s_oldham) September 9, 2019
There is no one who can blend laugh-out-loud humour, razor-sharp critique, and empathetic storytelling quite like @TaikaWaititi does in JOJO RABBIT. Your happy tears and your sad tears will become one. One of the year’s boldest and best. #TIFF19
— Nives Hajdin @ #TIFF19 ?✨ (@nivosupremo) September 9, 2019
#JoJoRabbit is one of the more absurd coming-of-age stories I’ve seen. Funny, bittersweet and unapologetically unique, Taika Waititi continues to prove he is among the most exciting and original voices telling stories right now #TIFF19 pic.twitter.com/Ml1e43wHK7
— Erik Davis (@ErikDavis) September 9, 2019
Few movies this year could have gone as wrong as JOJO RABBIT, so it’s a testament to Taika that somehow, he pulled it off. The movie played like gangbusters tonight at TIFF and despite its high whimsy, could become a serious awards contender
— Kyle Buchanan (@kylebuchanan) September 9, 2019
JOJO RABBIT is the second film I’ve seen in 24 hours where a director who’s made a franchise movie used his clout to make a weird, oddball, personal passion project. It gives you hope.
Also this thing is fucking amazing. #TIFF19
— David Fear (@davidlfear) September 9, 2019
JOJO RABBIT: Hilarious, heartfelt, and often incredibly dark. A truly unique film that deserves to be celebrated. #TIFF19
— Chris Evangelista @ TIFF (@cevangelista413) September 9, 2019
On the other hand, some thought the film didn’t find the right tone.
JOJO RABBIT: Taika Waititi’s proven himself to be remarkably good at portraying weighty themes from the perspective of a child, but I really, really don’t think he managed to thread the needle with this one #tiff pic.twitter.com/lfCiuwGcEB
— Alison Willmore (@alisonwillmore) September 9, 2019
JOJO RABBIT: Taika Waititi took a risk, but it didn’t work. The movie is tonally off and never quite finds its groove, whatever that groove was supposed to be. The climax is also filled with faux sentimentality, which never feels earned. A major disappointment. #TIFF
— Jordan Ruimy (@mrRuimy) September 9, 2019
— erickohn (@erickohn) September 9, 2019
“[The] feature-length equivalent of the “Springtime for Hitler” number from Mel Brooks’s THE PRODUCERS, sans context and self-awareness.” On JOJO RABBIT, or MARVEL PRESENTS MEIN KAMPF for @Slant_Magazine. https://t.co/AkzlW5WIoH
— Keith Uhlich (@keithuhlich) September 9, 2019
It always seemed unlikely everyone in 2019 would love a movie with such a weird premise, but based on these reactions we’re hopeful we will.
Jojo Rabbit comes to theaters on October 18.
Featured Image: Fox Searchlight