Taika Waititi is an interesting filmmaker. From What We Do in the Shadows to Thor: Ragnarok, it’s clear that his brand of comedy is distinct.
Is it because he is a comedian himself? Does the New Zealand director benefit from being an actor as well? Perhaps it’s because Waititi was once a drama student and part of a comedy duo.
But now he has a new film called Jojo Rabbit — and some people aren’t too keen about it. So is there anything alarming about it?
A Unique Voice in Comedy
The 44-year-old filmmaker isn’t afraid of any topic. As someone in the arts, he is willing to explore any topic whether it’s overrated or taboo.
Plus, Waititi knows the value of humor concerning sensitive topics. If a comedian does it right, jokes can help people understand an issue better. They get a laugh while also learning a new perspective.
Waititi made What We Do in the Shadows to mix horror with comedy. Before the film, people saw vampires in two ways. They were either terrifying like in 30 Days of Night or awkward and glittering in Twilight.
For the director, he opted for a mockumentary about a group of vampires living in a flat. The critics loved it — and it introduced his name to more people.
And as much as some people hate Thor: Ragnarok for not being dark and gritty, its style was distinct. You’d know right from the first few minutes that this was a Waititi movie.
A Sensitive Subject Matter
If Waititi tackled Asgardian heroes and vampires, what’s his latest film about? Well, Jojo Rabbit is a story about a kid from Hitler Youth. Yes, you read that right.
It focuses on a German kid during the time of Adolf Hitler. The dictator’s name alone probably makes many anxious and angry. Here was a man responsible for the death of more than 19 million people about 70 years ago.
Sure, other filmmakers back then made comedies about Nazis. For example, acclaimed director Quentin Tarantino made Inglorious Bastards. Critics loved it and the movie went on to earn over $300 million at the box office.
If Tarantino could get away with it, perhaps Waititi could. Plus, we don’t think he’s going to encourage any Nazi ideals even if it will show Nazis.
The Current Political Climate
Still, the tension surrounding Jojo Rabbit is understandable. The real world has a ton of political issues. We have Brexit, for one.
Likewise, many people believe that their governments are fascist in one way or another. There are many critics of Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, Rodrigo Duterte, and Jair Bolsonaro.
But Jojo Rabbit isn’t the most offensive or violent film of the year. Moreover, moviegoers can think for themselves.
People know that Waititi is a brilliant comedian. Even if the setting involves Nazis, he’ll find a way to make people laugh without seeming like he supports fascism.
Comedy is difficult. Not all people laugh at the same jokes. But we should allow Jojo Rabbit to premiere in theaters. It is up to the audience to interpret the movie’s message.