Blu-ray Review: “JoJo Rabbit”

  • Starring:  Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKenzie and Scarlett Johansson
  • Fox Searchlight
  • Running Time: 108 mins
  • Film: 5 out of 5 stars
  • Extras: 4 out of 5 stars

Nominated for six Academy Awards and much-deserved winner of the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, “JoJo Rabbit” is unlike anything you’d ever expect to see.  Unless, of course, you were looking to see a film about a young German boy during World War II whose best (and imaginary) friend is Adolf Hitler.

10-year old JoJo (Davis) lives with his mother, Rosie (Johansson) in a small town in Germany.  It is the time of the second world war and, like a good German boy, JoJo is anticipating his upcoming trip to the Kinderlandverschickung, which was a camp designed to indoctrinate young boys and girls into the ways of the Nazi party.  Think of it as the boy/girl scouts but with grenades.  JoJo can’t wait to wear the uniform and display the dagger given to all of the Hitler Youth.  However, after declaring that he is ready to kill for the Fuhrer, he is given a rabbit to kill to prove his fierceness.  Unable to do so, he attempts to set the rabbit free, earning him the mocking laughter of his fellow campers and the nickname “JoJo Rabbit.”  Despite this shame, he is encouraged to walk the Nazi Party line by his imaginary friend, Hitler himself (played by the film’s writer/director Taika Waititi),  To make matters worse, JoJo discovers that his mother is hiding a young Jewish girl (McKenzie) in their house.  Whatever is a young Nazi to do?

Brilliantly written and skillfully directed, “JoJo Rabbit” is well deserving of its Oscar nominations, among them Best Picture.  You have to walk a fine line to be able to laugh at one of the most horrible times in our world’s history and Mr. Waititi walks it like he was a member of the Wallenda family.  The film is also carried by the amazing performances delivered.  Mr. Davis, who was eleven years old when he made the film (his first professional acting gig) received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical and, if not for the strong field this year, could have quite easily been up for an Oscar as well.  Also turning in fine work are Ms. McKenzie and Ms. Johansson, who was named the year’s Best Supporting Actress by the readers of Media Mikes earlier this year for her work here.  Strong supporting work from Sam Rockwell, Rebel Wilson, Stephen Merchant and Mr. Waititi round out a flawless cast. 

There are some great supplements included under the EXTRA tab, including three deleted scenes, Outtakes, a nice behind-the-scenes featurette and an insightful audio commentary by writer/director Taika Waititi.  Also included are the film’s teaser and theatrical trailer.

Interview with Los Lonely Boys’ Jojo Garza

Jojo Garza is one of the three Garza brothers that makes up the band Los Lonely Boys. Jojo role in the band is the bassist. The band is currently touring the world for their latest album “Rockpango”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Jojo about the bands music and also the new album.

Mike Gencarelli:  What’s the most challenging part of working with your brothers?
Jojo Garza: The fact that they are my brothers. I know it sounds funny but that’s the truth. The way we grew up was that family sticks together and that no one can help you better than family.

MG: Can you give us some back ground on your most recent album, “Rockpango”?
JG: A lot of inspiration comes from what we experience in everyday life. We try to write so that the music has an angle everyone can relate to. A lot of the new songs have that idea behind them however they also have some new musical inspiration as well. We tried to thrown in some funk grooves and also pay tribute to some our idols like Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder. Musically we challenged ourselves on this album. The string quartet was something completely new as well. We really wanted people to hear some new sounds. The album is a whole new vibe.

MG: What do you like most about performing live?
JG: Being able to talk with people and letting them know we are still here. We are getting ready to go to Japan in a few days. We are going to keep spreading the word for as long as we can.

MG: Do you have a favorite song that you like to perform live?
JG: I just love jamming and playing any song really. I don’t think I could pick just one.

MG: Have you ever played the “Guitar Hero: World Tour” version of your song “Heaven”?
JG: Yes I did and I sucked at it. (Laughs) We actually did alright. It’s crazy that song did what it did. That song allowed us to show people we could play music. Playing that song on the game was not like playing it live on stage that’s for sure!

MG: Tell us what else you got planned for 2012?
JG: We are ready to play wherever. We want to bring the people some good times. We are working on new material as we speak and we can’t wait for people to hear it. We have a handful of songs that I think are very creative. We sing our hearts out in every song no matter what it is.