Johannes “Jojo” Betzler deeply loves his country, and idolizes its leader. Hilter’s Youth has been his dream for as long as he can remember, so when the day finally rolls around to attend training camp, he is absolutely ecstatic. With his best friend, Yorki, and his imaginary friend, Adolf Hilter, at his sides, Jojo is ready for anything. That is, except for the severe heckling he immediately receives from some of the older boys. They order him to ring the neck of a young rabbit to prove his strength, but he can’t follow through and attempts to free the creature into the woods. The boys quickly catch the rabbit and kill it before Jojo’s eyes, who runs away into the woods followed by the taunting chants of “Jojo Rabbit! Jojo Rabbit!”
Crying in the woods, Jojo is met by the imaginary Hilter, who encourages him in an attempt to prove his worth as a soldier. Jojo gets ahold of a stray Stielhandgranate and throws it in an attempt to impress the other campers. The explosive bounces off a tree and initiates at Jojo’s feet. He is sent home with a scarred face and a limp. Jojo is met by his mother, Rosie, who, seeing his despair and helplessness, forcefully finds a place for him under Klenzendorf, the old training camp leader who was demoted after the incident with Jojo, who is now running a more local group of boys involved in spreading war propaganda.
Jojo must reconcile his feelings about the war, the Nazi’s, and the Jews.
Taika Watiti is a genius in the film industry. His excellent direction of Jojo Rabbit is enhanced by his own performance as Adolf Hitler. Never before has a WWII movie been approached with such humour and heart. Viewing this historical event through the eyes of a child provides an entirely new take on the events. The bright colors, and child-like imagination adds a contrast to the horrifying events associated with the war, and, somehow, Watiti manages to blend the two opposites seamlessly and respectfully. As WWII movies are often depicted from the view of the Allies or the victims of the German oppression, it is truly a new experience to see the war from the side of the Germans and the Nazis. This, particularly from the point of view of a child, provides a whole new element of empathy for the Germans who were caught up in the loyalties to Hitler and the Nazis. While the war is far from idolized, the audience is invited to acknowldge the experience of the young people and families who found favor with the Nazi party and their less than perfect role in the war.