“That’s just not right,” Jackson said after I showed him the trailer for Fox Searchlight Pictures new movie, JoJo Rabbit, which came out October 18, 2019. He was, of course, referring to the movie’s comic rendering of Nazi behavior and caricature of Adolf Hitler himself.
And I admit, I was a little skeptical of such a story/movie in today’s times, too.
My students were the first to let me know about the movie, when one asked me what I thought of it. Because I was not aware of the film, we watched the trailer together in my, what else, Holocaust studies elective.
“I don’t know how I feel about that, ” one student said immediately after watching.
“What do you mean, Maci?” I asked her.
“Well, that just doesn’t seem right,” she responded. “To make fun of what happened?”
And in that moment I knew I was effectively teaching the history of the Holocaust.
I also knew I needed to research JoJo Rabbit and share what I found with students.
For an entire class period, we read reviews and interviews by critics and the author on whose book it is based. (also during my first formal observation by administration this year, gulp). After studying information about the film, we collectively decided that as a class we wanted to see the movie ourselves. To make up our own mind.
But a quick look at movie schedules in the area quickly deflated that idea. So I contacted the local theater who’s doing everything in its power to bring it to town soon.
And then last Friday, the same student who showed me the trailer let me know that the movie was only a half hour away, and I just couldn’t wait. I also wanted to preview it.
So I talked Jackson into going yesterday morning—yes, you read that correctly—to the early bird showing, and not only did we get discounted seats, WE WERE THE ONLY TWO IN THE WHOLE THEATER. A private showing pour moi. And I loved it.
And, I loved the movie. Roman Griffin Davis (JoJo) is magical, Sam Rockwell (the Nazi) is a delight, and Scarlett Johansson (Jojo’s mom) is perfection. I also found Taika Waititi (the director!) as Jojo’s imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler, to be a fun tag-a-long. And Jojo’s best friend Yorki (Archie Bates)! So so cute and funny!
Go see it. Laugh at it. Think about it. Talk about it. Share it.
Because twenty-four hours later, I’m still processing the story, the humanity, the humor, the devastation, and the brilliance of this gorgeous film. It was well worth more than just the early bird ticket and empty theater, I promise. And I don’t go to the theater any more. (Just ask my kids—they’re still shocked I went.)