Movie Review: Laugh and cry with 'Jojo Rabbit'

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The new movie is bold enough to make us laugh and cry. "Jojo Rabbit" is so audacious, the director had to make a blockbuster, "Thor Ragnarok," before he got to do his passion project.

A German boy has to cope with being bullied, with the help of an imaginary friend who happens to be Adolph Hitler, played by the same guy who made the movie - Taika Waititi.

"Let them say whatever they want," Hitler tells Jojo, "People used to say a lot of nasty things about me. Oh this guy is a lunatic. Oh look at that psycho. He's gonna get us all killed!"

Roman Griffin Davis claims he had to do, "80 auditions," before landing his pivotal role because the film depended on finding the right boy. "It's all in the casting really," says director Waititi, "Finding kids that are smart and intelligent and have got an emotional maturity, which is really important to be able to carry a performance."

Jojo's friend is a Nazi storm trooper played by Oscar winner Sam Rockwell, who observes, "Taika really had a unique vision here, and he got this all-star cast."

Scarlett Johansson plays Jojo's mom in the final days of World War II in a film that swerves between satire and drama...and back again. "It really takes you for a ride," she notes, "and I think you just have to see it. It's impossible to describe."

This roller coaster ride provoked tears and laughter at last month's Toronto Film Festival where it was voted the Audience Favorite. "It should be awarded alone for its bravery," says Stephen Merchant, who plays a Gestapo agent, though he's best known for his comic roles. "I mean how many movies can you remember that feature a young boy and his imaginary Hitler?" asks Merchant rhetorically. "There aren't that many!"

In fact, this might be the only such movie in history although "The Producers" made fun of Nazis on the big screen, and so did "Hogan's Heroes" on TV. This film is certified fresh by Rotten Tomatoes, but the website warns the film's blend of humor and serious themes, "definitely won't be to everyone's taste." I agree. "Jojo Rabbit" is from Fox Searchlight, owned by the same parent company as ABC 7.
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