Who would have Hitler as an imaginary friend?

Jojo Rabbit would of course.

If you haven’t seen Jojo Rabbit….the movie…..it’s worth seeing. The plot line is a little thin, but the comic scenes and the interaction between Jojo and his imaginary friend Adolf more than make up for it, as do the scenes at the Hitler Youth training camp – where the kids get to throw real hand grenades and shoot off live ammunition. The soundtrack is awesome with some classic hits from the likes of the Beatles, the Monkeys and even David Bowie sung in German, naturally….or should I say “naturlich”.

The child actors steal the show from the adults in this soon to be classic comedy from man of the moment, New Zealander, Taika Waititi, who not only directed the movie and wrote the screenplay, but also co-starred as a rather bizarre version of Adolf Hitler. Outstanding performances from Roman Griffin Davis as the lead character Jojo and Archie Yates as his bespectacled pudgy sidekick Yorki. This is not to say that the adults acted badly, just that the kids excelled. The supporting cast includes Sam Rockwell, Rebel Wilson and Stephen Merchant who all played outstanding comic roles. The movie is set in Nazi Germany (but filmed at several locations in the Czech Republic) toward the end of WW2 where Jojo’s mother (played by Scarlett Johansson) is illegally hiding a young Jewish girl in a secret wall space in their house. (Thomasin McKenzie plays Elsa – the Jewish girl in the wall). Jojo’s mother hasn’t told Jojo about Elsa…..because HE, at only 10 years of age, is a fervent member of the Hitler Youth.

As you’d expect from a Waititi script there are a lot of funny one liners and puns. When Jojo finds the young girl hiding in the wall, she confronts him and tells him to “say what I am”….he naturally blurts out “A Jew”…..to which she responds “Gezundheit”! I have copied in the movie trailer below so you can see what I mean. Enjoy.

Admittedly there will be people who think that making a comedy about Hitler in this manner, with young kids throwing Nazi Salutes and yelling “Heil Hitler” at one another, is an insult to holocaust victims…..but if you can get past the matter of 6 million victims of the concentration camps, and see the movie for what it is…satire….a black comedy, you’ll have a blast.

There is a serious side to the movie with morals and relationships thrown into the mix, but these simmer just beneath the comedy surface. Definitely more than meets the eye. Rotten Tomatoes rates the movie at 76% which I think is just about right.

What we did on our Holiday.

No I’m not going to bore the pants off you writing about our fun old-fashioned family Christmas. I’m writing about a British made, 2014 movie called “What we did on our Holiday” – which is one of the funniest, yet at the same time poignant, movies I have ever seen. There are 3 young kids in it who are simply brilliant. The primary adult stars are David Tennant, Rosamund Pike, Billy Connolly and Ben Miller, sterlingly supported by Amelia Bullmore, Annette Crosby and Celia Imrie. But it’s the three children who steal the show and are superb. Their names are Emilia Jones, Bobby Smalldridge and Harriet Turnbull. If you haven’t seen the movie – try to watch it on line or borrow it from a DVD store/library – it’s a real treat to watch.

Official trailer of the movie.

The story centres around the kids and Tennant and Pike who play their parents and live in the south of England. I should say at this point that the parents are on a trial separation and living in separate houses. BUT Tennant’s father, – Billy Connolly is about to celebrate his 75th birthday at his other son’s home in Scotland. In order not to upset Connolly, Pike and Tennant put on a united front to pretend that they are still together and that everything is absolutely rosie between them. Of course kids being kids – let the cat out of the bag.

The road trip from England up to the Scottish highlands is an eventful and argumentative one – with several amusing incidents. On arrival – finally, at Tennant’s brothers house – which turns out to be a huge mansion in park like grounds – we are shown that the relationship between the two brothers is a competitive one…..this is highlighted by the family football match on the lawn.

The birthday party for Connolly is oldest son Gavin’s (Miller) idea, who has to do everything extravagantly as a demonstration of his wealth and to show little brother (Tennant) who is the most successful of them. He has invited hundreds of guests and the party will be in a huge marquee on the main lawn. All Connolly is interested in though is spending time with his grand children – so he takes them off in a 4 wheel drive across the moorland to an isolated sandy beach until it’s time to return for the party.

It is revealed early in the movie that Connolly’s character is very sick with cancer and isn’t expected to see his next birthday – which is partly why there is a lot of fuss being made over this one – his 75th. The drugs he is on to fight the cancer are bad for his heart…..which is not as strong as it should be. This makes Connolly even more determined to get away to the beach with the grand kids and just watch them at play. They have some very deep and meaningful talks with him sitting on the beach. Some of which apparently is scripted and some ad-libbed. The kids are brilliant!

SPOILER ALERT!

They bury grandad in the sand and he pretends he’s dead. The kids become concerned and lean in close to check on him – he bursts out of the sand and scares them half to death. The chatter and play continues for a while and the kids talk about death with Connolly and he tells them that when he dies he would hate the sons to arrange his funeral as there would be arguments and things would be blown out of proportion and that what he’d really love is to have a Viking funeral. The body placed on a flaming boat and pushed out to sea. He tells the kids that they should try to enjoy life and be happy and content with their lot and not get drawn into petty arguments because “people are ridiculous and in the end nothing really matters”. After this he sits on the beach and the kids go off looking for crabs etc…..only to return to find that grandad (Connolly) has really died and is laying motionless on the sand.

Oldest grand daughter Lottie (Emilia Jones) – after checking grandad’s pulse, listening for a heart beat and checking that he is indeed no longer breathing – leaves the two younger kids to watch over grandad’s body while she races across country back to the mansion to alert the family of Connolly’s demise. When she gets there though everyone – the adults that is – are arguing. She realizes what a mess the adults will make of things when they find out that Connolly is dead, so she turns round, runs back to the beach and the kids decide to give grandad his Viking funeral.

Only after they have built a makeshift raft from bits and pieces found on the beach and rolled grandad onto it, set it alight and let the tide take him out to sea………do they return home to tell the rest of the family that grandad is dead.

This naturally coincides with the arrival of all the guests for his birthday party and how the kids break the news to the family is hilarious! I’ll add a link to that scene for you to see for yourselves….below.

So there you have it. It is honestly one of the best movies for laughs, life lessons, scenes showing typical family disagreements, family bonding in a crisis – and brilliant acting especially by the 3 younger actors. The scenes I have linked may be spoilers, but I hope that they actually inspire you to watch the entire movie. I’ll definitely be watching it again. It’s fairly low budget but a great comedic script and exceptional actors.

After all that I can’t give it any less than 5 out of 5.