- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Master cinema satirist Taika Waititi hilariously skewers the Third Reich in a World War II, Academy Award-winning black comedy that debuts on ultra-high definition in Jojo Rabbit (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, Rated PG-13, 1.85:1 aspect ratio, 108 minutes, $37.99).

Written and directed by Mr. Waititi, who won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, the story, loosely based on Christine Leunens’ book “Caging Skies,” takes place in Germany during the waning days of the war and explores one boy’s indoctrination and disillusionment with the Nazis.

Specifically, 10-year-old Johannes Jojo Betzler (Roman Griffin Davis), a participant in the Hitler Youth Weekend, does not have what it takes to become one of the Fuhrer’s elite army, ultimately proven by his inability to kill a poor bunny on demand and getting blown up by a self-thrown grenade.

Given the nickname “rabbit” by his peers for his faux pas, things get worse after his injuries heal when he finds out that his anti-Nazi mother Rosie (Scarlett Johansson) is harboring Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie), a Jewish girl in their attic (or Jew girl in the wall as he calls it).

Luckily, he has an imaginary friend named Adolf Hitler (Mr. Waititi) who keeps his confidence up and also keeps the audience shaking their heads while laughing at his exaggerated antics.



The spurts of hilarity are often balanced by experiencing the loving relationship of mother and son during unimaginable times and the horrors of the Third Reich, that turns the movie into a historical reminder of its brutality and crimes against humanity.

The humorous reminders of how truly hypocritical and idiotic the Third Reich was also get further reinforced by clever performances from Sam Rockwell as the gay Nazi Capt. Klenzendorf, Steven Merchant as the Gestapo Deertz and Rebel Wilson as Fräulein Rahm, an instructor at the Hitler Youth camp.

4K in action: The 2160p screen-filling presentation gets culled from the 2K intermediate and although one can admire some of the clarity, it’s the type of movie that does not need to benefit from any of the latest technological visual advances.

Frankly, I would love to have seen the film in black and white.

However, I was impressed by the cinematographic choices that, despite the potential for some colorful fashion and outdoors scenes, are much more muted with a vintage sepia warmth that fits well with the ominous historical situations.

Best extras: On the 4K disc, viewers get to hear Mr. Waititi discuss his masterpiece in a scattered, free-roaming and occasionally serious optional commentary track.

Your favorite New Zealander welcomes us to his self-professed “feel-good movie” and injects a heavy dose of self-deprecating humor while touching on Hitlermania and occasional daddy issues.

Unfortunately, its slightly disappointing as viewers get more of a collection of pointed interruptions during scenes with an equal lack of a commentary track.

However, what brilliantly saves the commentary is the director interviewing some of the actors, literally calling them on his phone, including Mr. Griffin Davis, Mr. Merchant, Mr. Rockwell and Miss Wilson to talk about the movie and other irrelevant, laugh-out-loud topics.

Jump over to the Blu-ray to find a 30-minute overview of the production packed with interviews of a full-of-love cast and crew highlighted by pithy moments with everybody’s best friend (according to the cast) and mirth maker Mr. Waititi.

Also, check out the trio of deleted scenes that feature Hitler mocking an imaginary version of Hermann Goering (suffering from a child who stopped believing in him) and a Tex Avery-style death scene of Der Fuhrer.

All further highlight the comedic brilliance of Mr. Waititi. OK, is that enough of an endorsement for this guy?

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