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Film / Jojo Rabbit

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"Jojo Betzler, ten years old. Today, you join the ranks of the Jungvolk in a very special training weekend. It's going to be intense. Today, you become a man. I swear to devote all my energies and my strength to the savior of our country, and of his now. I am willing and ready to give up my life for him. So help me, God."
Johannes "Jojo" Betzler

Jojo Rabbit is a 2019 American Black Comedy film written and directed by Taika Waititi. It is loosely based on the book Caging Skies by Christine Leunens.

Jojo (played by Roman Griffin Davis), a shy boy living in the Third Reich, wants to become a Nazi so he can fit in with his peers. Accompanying him is his Imaginary Friend Adolf, a caricature of Adolf Hitler (Waititi).

While Jojo struggles to blend in, his mother (Scarlett Johansson) rescues a Jewish girl named Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie) and hides her in their home. When Jojo meets Elsa, he begins to have second thoughts about being a Nazi.

The film also stars Sam Rockwell as Captain Klenzendorf, Rebel Wilson as Fräulein Rahm, Stephen Merchant as Gestapo Captain Deertz, and Alfie Allen as Freddie Finkel.

Previews: Teaser, Trailer.

Heil tropes!

  • Adaptational Heroism: In contrast to Johannes in the original book, who is a manipulative Villain Protagonist with no sympathetic qualities, Jojo is largely depicted as a more-or-less innocent child taken in by the fascist propaganda of the Nazis, supporting and parroting their bigoted ideology without really understanding it because it gives him a sense of purpose and belonging. By the end, he makes a Heel–Face Turn and renounces Nazism after witnessing the true cruelty and horror of their rule.
  • Adaptation Title Change: Jojo Rabbit is loosely based on the novel Caging Skies.
  • Adaptational Timespan Change: The film takes place over the course of around a year, while the book it's based on, Caging Skies, covers over a decade. In both versions, the protagonist Johannes starts as a member of the Nazi Youth, but in the movie, he is only 11 at the end of the war, and mostly an innocent Child Soldier, while in the book he grows up to be a genuine member of the Nazi Party.
  • Adolf Hitlarious: Hitler chews the scenery every time he appears, and generally acts like a large child, except for when he shows up at the end, after the real Hitler has committed suicide; he's disheveled, has a bleeding gunshot wound blown through his head, and frantically rants at Jojo, demanding that they turn Elsa in, and pleading with him to give him a "heil".
  • All Germans Are Nazis: Played With all over the place. Jojo himself is a member of the Hitler Youth and has been warped by the Nazi Party's propaganda, but lacks the will to actually commit the atrocities expected of him. As Elsa puts it, Jojo is really just "a 10-year-old kid who likes dressing up in a funny uniform and wants to be part of a club." Captain Klenzendorf is a ranking member of the Heer, but it's clear he's become disillusioned by the leadership's racial politics and is more interested in preparing the town for the inevitable invasion by the Allies than persecuting minorities. He even covers for Elsa for the Gestapo, when he could have easily called out her lie and arrested her for being a Jew. And as it turns out, both of Jojo's parents are active members of the German resistance. There's still Fräulein Rahm and Captain Deertz who play this straight, being wholly committed to the party cause to their deaths.
  • Almost Kiss: Klenzendorf and Finkle have one of these moments after their discussion of German Shepherds, but are interrupted by the appearance of Jojo.
  • Anachronistic Soundtrack: The trailer prominently features a German-language cover of "I'm a Believer", and the film features German versions of "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and "'Heroes'" by David Bowie. In fact, the latter song is about two lovers divided by the Berlin Wall! There's also a montage set to the original version of Tom Waits' "I Don't Wanna Grow Up".
  • And Starring: "With Sam Rockwell and Scarlett Johansson."
  • Animal Motifs:
    • Freddie Finkel is a dog, shown by his attachment to Captain Klenzendorf and his mix-up with the German Shepherds.
    • Rosie is a tiger.
    • Elsa is a butterfly.
    • The most obvious animal motif is Jojo, the rabbit.
  • Anyone Can Die: By the end, the only confirmed named survivors are Jojo, Elsa, and Yorki. Rosie and Klenzendorf are dead, Fräulein Rahm is almost certainly dead, Deertz, being a member of the Gestapo and captured by the Soviets, is likely going to be executed, while Finkel likely dies in the field defending Klenzendorf. Finally, not only is the real Hitler dead, but Jojo also kicks his imaginary ex-friend version of him out the window, ending his influence for good.
  • Arc Words: Multiple variations of "do what you can" are said throughout the movie, always referring to people opposing the Nazis from the inside.
  • Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering?: When Jojo and Imaginary Hitler simultaneously voice their solutions for how to deal with Elsa.
    Jojo: I will negotiate.
    Hitler: Burn down the house and blame Winston Churchill.
  • Artistic License – History:
    • Waititi's Hitler dresses anachronistically and gets up to all kinds of antics that would be out of character for the historical Hitler. Examples include several instances of Hitler offering Jojo a cigarette, him eating unicorn for dinner, and wearing a brown shirt militant uniform. The real Hitler ditched his brown shirt uniform in 1933 for more formal government clothes and uniform after gaining control over Germany. He quit smoking in 1919, and during the war he followed a vegetarian diet. This is justified (A) because the Hitler in the movie is just Jojo's imaginary version of him, and (B) as a deliberate creative choice. Waititi didn't spend any time researching or preparing for the role of Hitler, explaining that, "I just made him a version of myself that happened to have a bad haircut and a shitty little mustache. And a mediocre German accent. It would just be too weird to play the actual Hitler, and I don't think people would enjoy the character as much." Besides, he considers Hitler to have been such an evil wanker that he doesn't deserve the effort of an accurate portrayal. While most of the inaccuracies would get a pass thanks to the movie's Hitler being Jojo's imaginary friend, Hitler being portrayed as a smoker still makes no sense, because Nazi Germany had no-smoking policies, so a child who buys into Nazi propaganda as wholeheartedly as Jojo does would have no reason to think Smoking Is Cool.
    • Towards the end, you see both Soviet and American troops policing Jojo's hometown together shortly after Hitler's suicide. In reality, the Western Allies stopped at the Elbe River, and would not have jointly occupied any German territory at the time of Germany's surrender. (Allied troops would not enter West Berlin until several months later.) However, there were cases where western Allied troops did end up further east than they were "supposed to" until they withdrew west to the pre-agreed occupation zone boundaries; it's possible Jojo's town is in the Sudetenland or Austria.
    • There is also no concern over who will ultimately occupy the town, and the Allies are treated as a monolith. Rosie, as a resistance member, would be less concerned with destabilizing the Nazi regime per se, and more focused on fleeing to a place where the Soviets wouldn't capture her or Jojo, unless she had strong communist sympathies (and even that wouldn't necessarily help). In fact, Rosie doesn't worry much about being killed, even if by accident, by an American or British air raid. This is easily justified though, as a more realistic depiction of the attitudes of German civilians at this time wouldn't really do anything for the narrative.
    • During dinner, Rosie says that the Allies have liberated Italy and will soon liberate France, and then the war will be over. Italy changed sides in 1943, and the Germans held onto Northern Italy until the end of the war. France was fully liberated by September 1944 (though she may simply be referring to the liberation of Rome, which occurred two days before the invasion of France).
    • Jojo's Hitler mentions "that pirate Von Stauffenberg" trying to assassinate him "last year". The Valkyrie plot took place on July 20, 1944, yet winter passes later in the film... which, taken literally, means the war ended in 1946.
    • Jojo's father was said to have gone missing in action in Italy "two years ago." Since the war ends after a winter time skip, that means the bulk of the movie takes place in 1944, meaning Jojo's father disappeared in 1942... except Italy wasn't invaded until September 1943 (July if you count the invasion of Sicily). However, this is justified, as Jojo's dad is actually a member of the resistance, not a Nazi, and thus him supposedly going missing in Italy is either a lie by Rosie to her impressionable son or a fabrication by Jojo, who is naive to much of the reality of the war.
    • Fraulein Rahm claims to have had 18 children. If so, she should be wearing the German Mother's Cross (Mutterkreuze), First Class medal, awarded to women with eight or more children. Also, she wouldn't be in uniform, as German mothers were encouraged to be full time housewives.
    • A minor example, but the flags the American soldiers have at the end have fifty stars, despite there only being forty-eight states at this point in time.
  • Artistic License – Linguistics: Translation Convention aside, the "German Shepherds" Visual Pun would never happen due to miscommunication among German speakers, because the German Shepherd dog breed is actually referred to as Schäferhunde — literally, "shepherd dogs" — in the German language.
  • Baby Factory: The girls at the Hitler Youth camp are told their duty to their country will be to make children. Fräulein Rahm states she's had eighteen kids.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: The Nazi Youth leaders tell Jojo to kill a rabbit to prove he has the potential to be ruthless. Jojo can't bring himself to do it and lets the rabbit run free, but an older boy catches it and snaps its neck with ease. This makes the difference in morals between Jojo and the Nazi regime clear early on.
  • Badass Boast: Jojo claims that "Aryans" are the Master Race, so there's no way he'll ever be beaten by a Jew. In response, Elsa totally overpowers him, boasting:
    "There are no weak Jews! I am descended from those who wrestle angels and kill giants. We were chosen by God! You were chosen by a pathetic little man who can't even grow a full mustache."
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished:
    • The only effect that living in a cubbyhole for at least several months has on Elsa's appearance is that her hair is unkempt. In one scene, she calls herself a "dirty Jew" (both commenting on her physical state and sardonically referencing Nazi propaganda), which prompts Jojo to run her a bath, but she never really looked dirty to begin with. She remains attractive enough throughout the film for Jojo to develop quite a crush on her.
    • In-Universe for Jojo; after the grenade incident, he's left with very light scars on his limbs and the left side of his face, but otherwise doesn't look worse for wear. Despite this, he and several other people throughout the film describe him as "deformed" and monstrous-looking.
  • BFG: Fräulein Rahm goes into battle with an MG-42, and is promptly killed.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Jojo loses his mother and is badly traumatized by the horrors of her execution and the Allies' takeover, but he has a Heel Realization and sees the Nazi party for the fascistic, genocidal, and hypocritical nutcases they were, and ultimately survives the war with Elsa.
  • Black Comedy: The film runs on this throughout, presenting wacky antics and colorful characters without shying away from the horror of them participating in the indoctrination of children into becoming bloodthirsty killers and living under genocidal fascist rule. It crosses the line several times in the climax, when War Is Hell is played for all its tragedy without letting up on the jokes, and reaches its peak when Fräulein Rahm sticks a live grenade into a young Hitler Youth's belt and pushes him out from behind cover, telling him to go hug an Allied soldier.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • When Jojo insists Elsa tell him what Jews are like, she amuses herself by making up absurd claims, taking the piss out of the Nazi propaganda Jojo has been fed.
    • Yorki gets a uniform that's clearly made out of paper, but the supply people claim it's actually a highly advanced new material that's only "paper-like" and made by Germany's top scientists.
    • Jojo reads a letter purportedly from Elsa's fiance that childishly insults her, only to regret it afterwards and try to fix it by claiming that he's just discovered another letter that contradicts and walks back some of the meaner things the earlier letter said.
    • Jojo telling Elsa that Germany won the war after he's developed feelings for her.
  • Bling of War: Klentzendorf creates a flamboyant uniform for his last stand, which incorporates bright colors, feathers, and various shiny bits.
  • Blunt "Yes": Hitler's response when Jojo asks him if he thinks he's ugly with his scars.
  • Book Burning: An early scene features the Hitler Youth enthusiastically burning books.
  • Book Ends:
    • When Jojo and his mother prepare to leave their house for the first time after Jojo blows himself up with a grenade at camp near the beginning, Jojo asks if it's dangerous outside, and his mother jokingly answers that it's extremely dangerous. At the end, when Jojo and Elsa leave (Elsa for the first time since she arrived at their house), she asks him if it's dangerous outside, and he gives the same answer his mother did.
    • The "Jojo Betzler, age 10" mirror monologue. In the beginning, it's paired with Jojo trying to psych himself up going to the Hitler Youth camp, in the end it comes when Jojo is about to lead Elsa outside and show her the American troops have freed the city from Nazi control.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: Imaginary Hitler delivers this:
    "My empire will be full of all animals. Lions, giraffes, zebras, rhinoceroses, octopuses, rhinoctopuses."
  • Break the Cutie: Poor Jojo is traumatized when he finds his mother hanged as a traitor in the middle of the town square. All he can do is tearfully hug her dangling legs.
  • Brick Joke:
    • Imaginary Hitler casually mentions he'll be having unicorn for dinner, which he does on camera in a later scene.
    • During their initial confrontations, Elsa keeps taking away whatever knife Jojo brings with him to confront her. Later on, while trying to make dinner, Rosie asks where all the knives went.
    • During the climactic battle scene, we see the German Shepherds from earlier fighting in the street.
  • Broken Pedestal: Jojo has this towards Hitler as the mounting evidence of how idiotic Nazism is begins to get to him (especially after they kill his mother), but more explicitly when he hears he committed suicide in order to escape facing the Allies for what he had done. The next time he imagines Hitler, his image is dishevelled, his Affably Evil gimmick has faded, and he quickly crumbles when Jojo lashes out, showing how low his opinion of the Fuhrer has become.
  • Brutal Honesty:
    • People don't have much of a filter throughout the film, and will often bluntly say things that are rude or downright insulting to or about others in their presence. This includes a Running Gag where people will blithely call Jojo a deformed freak right in front of him. Even his Imaginary Friend Hitler gives him a Blunt "Yes" when asked if he's ugly. This is all presumably due to ridiculous Nazi propaganda lionizing the physical perfection of the "Master Race."
    • Captain Deertz, the stern and intimidating Gestapo leader, enjoys seeing Jojo's room decked out in posters of Hitler. It's the one moment where he actually looks genuinely happy, while simultaneously stating he wishes more young people showed the same "blind fanaticism" as Jojo. It actually shocks Jojo to hear it.
  • Bunny Ears Picture Prank: In the poster, Jojo poses confidently, but his image is spoiled by the bunny-ear fingers above his head.
  • …But He Sounds Handsome: Jojo shills himself in one of Nathan's letters to Elsa. She knowingly smiles.
    "Thank God you're being taken care of by that kid who I must say is a remarkable young man beyond his years. And brave, too."
  • Butterfly of Death and Rebirth: Jojo sees a blue butterfly in the town square and follows it. It leads him to the gallows, where he discovers his mother's dead body.
  • Call-Back:
    • Elsa says that the first thing she'll do when she's free is dance. In the end, when Elsa realizes that the Allies have won the war after all, she starts dancing, and Jojo joins her.
    • Jojo is shown to be unable to snap his fingers at camp with Yorki, and Imaginary Hitler mentions he can't tie his own shoelaces despite being ten. In the final scene he's able to do both, tying Elsa's shoelaces before going outside, then snapping his fingers when they start dancing to "Heroes".
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Jojo calls his mother to task at dinner for doubting the war and Hitler's regime. Since he's still a little Nazi at this point and his mother has clear resistance sympathies, it's less than impressive.
  • Central Theme:
    • The power of Groupthink and what it means to grow to have your opinions.
    • Is bigotry learned or inherent?
  • Chekhov's Boomerang:
    • The Hitler Youth knife. It's the first weapon Jojo uses after finding Elsa, which she promptly takes from him. When Captain Deertz shows up, Jojo is almost placed under interrogation when it's discovered to be still missing. Elsa also nearly blows her cover by disguising herself as his dead sister Inge to return it to him.
    • Jojo can't tie his own shoes. His mother Rosie ties them for him once, then ties them together as a joke in their last interaction. When Jojo finds Rosie hanged in the square, he sees her shoe is untied. He finally manages to tie shoes at the end, after Elsa puts some on to leave when the city is liberated.
  • Child Soldiers: What the Hitler Youth are essentially prepared to become with their training in military weapons and tactics. Played tragically straight in the climax.
  • Cigarette of Anxiety: A Running Gag. Imaginary Hitler repeatedly smokes cigarettes due to stress, and keeps on offering Jojo some, until Jojo snaps at him that a ten-year-old can't smoke.
  • City with No Name: The town the story is set in is never named.
  • Clone Army: Part of the Hitlerjugend consists of several identical blond boys (played by Roman Griffin Davis' older brothers), who apparently need to be fed and walked like dogs. Several of the clones die during the climax.
  • Comically Missing the Point: In one scene, Imaginary Hitler responds to Jojo's puzzlement about his mother's actions by asking her directly what she's doing. Jojo points out that she can't hear him — so he asks again, louder.
  • Corrupt the Cutie: Inverted. By the start of the film, Jojo has already been brainwashed into the Jew-hating fanatic the Nazi Party expects him to be. His Character Development and friendship with Elsa help him realize he's fighting on the wrong side.
  • Costume Porn: The costumes are so gorgeous, the film ran into a bit of a pickle after it started getting best costuming nominations, as people assumed the nom was for the Nazi uniforms, and not the beautiful period clothes of the civilians in the film, especially Rosie's great outfits after great outfits all the way through the film.
  • Cover Identity Anomaly: When the Gestapo arrive at Jojo's house, Elsa pretends to be Jojo's dead sister Inge. After demanding her ID papers, the officers have Klenzendorf quiz her on the biological information contained in Inge's papers. After Elsa gives her birthday, he pauses, and after a minute, accepts her answer. Except that after Klenzendorf and the Gestapo leave, she tells Jojo that she accidentally gave Inge's birthday as May 1 when the right answer was May 7. Klenzendorf covered for her, figuring out that she was a Jew and protecting her from the Gestapo anyway, after having earlier told Jojo that he should report any Jews he finds so the Gestapo would take them away.
  • Cruel to Be Kind: Klenzendorf manages to spare Jojo from a Soviet firing squad by ripping off a Nazi military jacket the boy was wearing and yelling and spitting at him to make the Russian soldiers think Jojo's Jewish and send him away.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The Final Battle. The Russians and Americans completely mop the floor with the Nazis.
  • Dad's Off Fighting in the War: Jojo's father is off fighting as La Résistance.
  • Dance Party Ending: The movie ends with Jojo and Elsa dancing together, as a Call-Back to Rosie remarking that once they're free of the war, she would dance.
  • Dead Guy on Display: The hanged corpses of people executed for disloyalty to Hitler and the party are displayed in the town square. Jojo eventually finds his mother among them.
    Jojo: What did they do?
    Rosie: What they could.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: When the Gestapo searches the house, Elsa pretends to be Jojo's dead sister Inge.
  • Deconstructed Character Archetype: At the start of the film, Jojo is creepily teetering on being a real Nazi and being swept up in Nazi propaganda.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Elsa and Jojo do this to each other. Jojo becomes gradually obsessed with Elsa, who is nicer and nicer to Jojo in every one of his talks with her, causing him to become nicer as he sees she's not anything like what he's been taught, and she gradually comes to trust him more as he sheds his Nazi beliefs.
  • Destination Defenestration: Jojo kicks Hitler out of a window at the end of the film.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Jojo eventually accepts the fact that his romantic feelings for Elsa won't ever be requited (although she grows to love him as a little brother), but still affirms to Imaginary Hitler that he's in love with her. He also admits to her that the Allies actually won, meaning she's free to go, even though she might easily choose to walk away from him, leaving him with no one.
  • Dirty Communists: Parodied when Yorki parrots propaganda to Jojo that the Russians eat babies and have sex with dogs.
  • Disappeared Dad: Jojo's father is never present throughout the movie, as he is stationed in Italy. It's later revealed that both he and Rosie are part of the anti-Nazi resistance.
  • Dramatic Irony: Jojo getting a face full of grenade is probably the safest thing to happen to him, since the injuries keep him from having to fight on the front line.
  • Dying Smirk: After saving Jojo's life by treating him as a Jew while in Russian custody, Captain Klenzendorf is dragged away to be summarily executed, all the while bearing a stoic smile on his face, even as Jojo futilely screams and tries to struggle out of a Russian soldier's grip to save him.
  • Easily Forgiven: From Elsa toward Jojo. Completely justified considering the circumstances. After seeing his mother dead, Jojo tries to stab Elsa in the shoulder, only getting the knife in just past the point before Elsa grabs his hands and removes it. Elsa has lost her parents too, and she now knows Jojo well enough to guess that his misplaced, momentary hatred will give way to his better nature when she shows him sympathy. For his part, Jojo comes to realize that Elsa isn't to blame for what his mother did freely and with a full understanding of the risks, and regrets having harmed Elsa while his emotions were corrupted by grief.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: "Jojo Rabbit" comes from the other kids mocking Jojo for refusing to kill a rabbit.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • At a book-burning during the Hitler Youth camp, all the adults are shown engaging in the antics and encouraging the destruction with animated gusto. Except for Captain Klenzendorf, who stands in the background with a neutral expression on his face, drinking heavily from his flask. While he's willing to die for Germany, he does not believe in the politics of the Third Reich.
    • The book burning also has one for Jojo. At first, he's enthusiastic and throwing books in with the rest of the Hitler Youth. There's actually a moment where he stops and looks at the fire with a confused expression on his face, then glances around. When he sees the other boys getting excited and throwing more books on, he gets excited again, but doesn't throw another book for the rest of the scene. He's impressionable, but there's a heart of gold in there somewhere, and he just wants to fit in.
  • Evil Is Bigger: The film has no real Big Bad besides Nazism in general, but the Gestapo agents who raid Jojo's house are the most direct threat in the film and their leader, played by 6'7 Stephen Merchant, looks about twice the size of the rest of his men.
  • Explosive Stupidity: Jojo throws a grenade. It hits a tree, then rolls right back to his feet.
  • Feet-First Introduction: Rosie enters several scenes foot-first, identified by her distinctive shoes. These are done to establish her trademark footwear for The Reveal of her hanged body, which is only seen from the legs down and can only be identified by her shoes.
  • The Film of the Book: The film is based on the book Caging Skies by Christine Leunens, albeit with many differences between book and film.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Jojo and Elsa are initially hostile towards each other, but grow to depend on each other as the only ones each has left.
  • First Law of Tragicomedies: The film gets ever-so-gradually less farcical until the death of Rosie shoves the movie into something more like a straightforward war drama with some jokes.
  • First-Name Basis: Jojo refers to his imaginary friend Hitler as "Adolf" throughout the film, until the end when he finally gets fed up with Imaginary Hitler's megalomania and shouts "Fuck off, Hitler!"
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Several lingering shots focus intently on Rosie's distinctive shoes, most glaringly the scene at the swimming pool where she cavorts on a ledge above Jojo, with only her shoes and some of her ankles visible. Jojo discovers his mother's hanged body from the shoes up, and the rest of her body is not shown, only depicted from Jojo's eye level.
    • Rosie tells Elsa that she reminds her of her deceased daughter, Inge. Later, Elsa passes herself off as Inge.
    • Jojo makes a comment about Jews loving ugly things. At the time he says it, he considers himself ugly because of his injuries, and over the course of the film Elsa comes to love him as a brother.
    • Captain Klenzendorf is introduced lamenting how easily preventable the mistake that got him demoted was, expresses the belief Germany is fighting a losing battle, and generally appears to take his job with little to no seriousness. The fact he's secretly a Token Good Teammate makes it pretty clear he was probably doing this on purpose as a means of protesting the party he doesn't support.
    • When the Gestapo arrive to search Jojo's house, they ask him if he knows where his mother is, drawing attention to her recent absence. Shortly after, we find out she's been hanged for being part of La Résistance.
  • Forgotten First Meeting: Elsa was a friend of Jojo's sister Inge and met Jojo before, but he doesn't remember her at all.
  • Four Eyes, Zero Soul: All the Gestapo men wear little round spectacles.
  • Gesundheit: After forcing Jojo to call her "a Jew" (sounding like "achoo"), Elsa replies with a condescending "Gesundheit".
  • The Ghost: Jojo's father is never seen except in pictures (and Rosie's impression of him), but he's still a very important figure for his wife and son, and even a source of inspiration for them, although for very different reasons at first.
  • Girlfriend in Canada: Elsa claims that she has a boyfriend named Nathan whom she plans to reunite with once the war is over. She later reveals that Nathan died from tuberculosis over a year ago.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: As the film presents them, Jojo's facial scars from his grenade accident are quite minor and objectively have very little effect on his appearance. Jojo is nevertheless overly self-conscious about them, a fact that isn't helped by the Running Gag of insensitive people exaggerating how hideous his scars look.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Averted with the anonymous Germans who were hanged in the town square, as we see their hanging bodies clearly. Later played straight when Jojo finds his mother, Rosie, has been hanged in exactly the same way. We only see her legs and then a shot of her from behind. Also played straight with the Nazis who are executed by the Soviets.
  • Greedy Jew: Elsa plays along with Jojo's prejudices by "confessing" that Jews love money and shiny things.
  • Groin Attack: Klenzendorf gets one in the nuts from Rosie.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold:
    • Rosie is as blonde as Jojo, and is a very compassionate person who opposes the Nazis as part of the German resistance.
    • In general, this trope is deconstructed in the film. Blondness is one of the characteristics prized by the Nazis' white supremacist ideology, and Jojo himself was upset when he found out that his grandfather wasn't blond. By the end, however, Jojo has learned that physical appearance or race doesn't make someone inherently better. His mother was good, not because she's blonde, or an Aryan (as people like Fräulein Rahm are Aryans, and utterly vile); but because of her kindness.
  • Hanging Around: How the traitors are dispatched, including Jojo's mother.
  • Harmful to Minors:
    • Naturally, as the Hitler Youths are being trained to become child soldiers or Baby Factories, depending on sex.
    • There are also the Nazis' countless Jewish victims, many of whom are undoubtedly as young or younger than teenage Elsa.
    • Also, near the end, the Hitler Youths are executed by the Soviets.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Jojo, over the course of the movie, goes from being a blind follower of Nazism to telling his imaginary Hitler to fuck off and kicking him out the window.
  • Heel Realization: Both of the adorable and utterly loyal Hitler Youths Jojo and Yorki have one by the end of the film.
  • Hero Antagonist: The Russians defeat the Nazis near the end of the film, briefly hold Jojo prisoner, and have Klenzendorf executed. Not to mention them executing Hitler Youths.
  • Hey, Wait!: When it looks like Elsa's Dead Person Impersonation has succeeded, Captain Deertz shouts "Wait!" and the music turns suspenseful. However, he didn't actually Spot the Thread, he just noticed Jojo's "exposé on Jews" on the desk.
  • Hidden Heart of Gold:
    • Jojo tries to be the best Nazi he can be, but any time he's faced with any opportunity to be cruel, he either fails to follow through or his sympathy gets the best of him.
    • Elsa comes off as very confrontational with Jojo, almost like a Big Sister Bully, but eventually warms up to him and becomes something of a Cool Big Sis to him.
    • Klenzendorf at first appears to just be a Jaded Washout, but he clearly cares deeply for Rosie and Jojo, and any time he needs to give token praise to Hitler/Nazism he barely hides his distaste. He eventually lies to save Elsa from the Gestapo, and then lies again to save Jojo from the Soviets.
  • Homage: After one of Hitler's chats with Jojo, he runs and jumps out of a window, which is a Running Gag in Danger 5.
  • Hopeless War: Some of the more objective-minded characters, such as Rosie and Klenzendorf, recognize that Germany is headed toward inevitable defeat. As the town collapses under the Allied assault, Yorki tells Jojo that the whole world is against Germany, as their only remaining friends are the Japanese, "...and they don't look very Aryan."
  • Hospital Gurney Scene: After the grenade incident, we get a series of POV Shots from Jojo's perspective, including his ride in a gurney across a hospital floor with Imaginary Hitler running alongside and giving him a Thumbs Up.
  • Hypocritical Humor: In spades. It's Nazis we're talking about, after all, in a satirical context. For instance, Fräulein Rahm teaches the Nazi Youths that Aryans are more advanced and civilized than any other race... right before she tells them they're going to burn some books, and the kids cheer wildly.
  • If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten!: To prove that he's tough enough to be a Nazi, Jojo is asked to snap the neck of a rabbit. He ultimately chooses to let the rabbit go, earning him the nickname "Jojo Rabbit," at which point one of the Nazis grabs the rabbit and snaps its neck anyways.
  • Imaginary Love Triangle: Jojo is smitten with Elsa, and even claims to Yorki that she's his girlfriend, but she doesn't reciprocate his crush for obvious reasons. He also wants Nathan, her actual boyfriend, dead, in hopes that that'll make her like him back. Nathan's been dead all along. Elsa still doesn't requite his romantic love, of course, but comes to love him like a little brother.
  • Improvised Armor: After Elsa takes his Hitler Youth knife, Jojo goes back upstairs equipped with a kitchen knife, a pot lid shield, and a cooking pot helmet.
  • In Name Only: The film doesn't share its title with the novel it's based on, Caging Skies, but the overall plot outline and character names are carried over. Apart from that, almost nothing is the same. In the book, there's no imaginary Hitler antics, and Johannes is much less sympathetic. The most glaring difference between the two is the tonal disparity; Jojo Rabbit is a Black Comedy, whereas Caging Skies is significantly bleaker (though not without some funny moments).
  • Internal Reveal: While the audience knows pretty much from the get-go that Rosie is an active member of the anti-Nazi resistance, Jojo himself doesn't find out that she is doing more than just hiding Elsa until he accidentally observes her distributing leaflets with anti-Nazi messages while he is collecting scrap metal in a robot disguise.
  • In the Style of: As many reviews have noted, Taika Waititi seems to be invoking the hell out of Wes Anderson for the film.
  • It's for a Book: When Imaginary Hitler calls Jojo out for spending so much time with Elsa, the latter claims it's for his book. He does the same schtick at the swimming hall when Klenzendorf gets suspicious of him showing interest in the topic of Jews.
  • Juggling Loaded Guns: Unsafe weapon handling is played for laughs, such as Fräulein Rahm's tendency to carelessly point her gun at other people.
  • Karmic Nod:
    • Klenzendorf accepts being beaten up by Rosie, as he was responsible for Jojo being wounded.
    • Jojo is slapped by Elsa for briefly lying to her that the Nazis won the war so she wouldn't leave her hideout, and by extension, him. He admits that he deserved it.
  • Killed Offscreen:
    • The exact circumstances of Rosie's execution are not revealed. Jojo sees her out in town dropping off pamphlets that say "Free Germany", and the next time he sees her is when he comes across her body hanging in the square.
    • It's implied that Rahm and Klenzendorf are killed off screen by an explosion and audible gunshots, respectively.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Despite their brief screen time, the arrival of the Gestapo at Jojo's house is the moment where the drama really ramps up. However, it still has some comedy to it, and it isn't until the next scene when Jojo finds his mother has been executed by the Nazis for sedition that the First Law of Tragicomedies really kicks in.
  • Laborious Laces: Jojo constantly fails to tie his own shoes, which is a deep embarrassment for him considering that he hopes to join the Hitlerjugen.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: It's easy to miss, but one of the older Hitler Youth recruits who calls Jojo a coward for not killing the rabbit is briefly shown begging the Soviets for his life after the end of the battle, in stark contrast to the stoic Klenzendorf. It doesn't work.
  • The Last of These Is Not Like the Others: At the library, Adolf proposes using the books to build a trap that sends Elsa into a pit full of piranhas, lava, and bacon.
  • Lifesaving Misfortune: The grenade incident leaves Jojo with a bunch of not-so-bad scars and a temporary limp –- just enough to not be a Child Soldier candidate. Every other member of the Hitlerjugend ends up drafted into the defense of the town against the Allies.
  • Lighter and Softer: There is no Black Comedy in the novel that the film is based on. Caging Skies is a sober look into Nazi ideology, exploring themes of obsession and toxic masculinity bolstered by nationalistic ideals.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Near the end of the film, Jojo tells Elsa that he loves her, and she says the same to him, but they both agree they're better off with Jojo being a "younger brother."
  • Line-of-Sight Name: When Elsa is telling Jojo a made-up story about the origin of the Jews, she looks at pictures and decorations around the room to get inspiration for the details.
  • Lock-and-Load Montage: The film begins with a montage of Jojo dressing in his Hitler Youth uniform.
  • Logo Joke: The 20th Century Fox drumroll segues into Jojo's March rather than the usual fanfare.
  • Mature Work, Child Protagonists: The film is about a ten-year-old boy growing up in Nazi Germany - it is written from an adult perspective, and deliberately contrasts our protagonist's innocent acceptance of his world and his child-like view of Hitler with the harsh reality.
  • Menacing Hand Shot: Back at the house after seeing his mother hanged, Jojo approaches Elsa with his knife with the camera focused on the weapon in his hand.
  • Mexican Standoff: Referenced incorrectly by Jojo when he explains to Elsa that both of them are stuck with each other. (If Jojo reports Elsa to the authorities, she'll kill him and his mother (or so she says to scare him), and vice versa.) He calls their situation "a Mexican stalemate." She quickly corrects him by pointing out that their situation is just a regular stalemate.
  • Milholland Relationship Moment: When Jojo eventually brings himself to reveal to Yorki that he helped to hide a Jew in his house, the latter doesn't raise a brow. Justified, because his priorities have shifted in the face of Allied forces arriving to liberate the town.
  • Monstrous Humanoid: The Jews are initially seen as this by Jojo. When he meets Elsa for the first time, the scene plays out like a horror film. Elsa is perfectly aware of this, and she plays up the horror for all she's worth, clearly toying with him.
  • Mood Whiplash: The film is made of this, constantly flipping between farce and horror/tragedy.
    • The story is a rather goofy farce right until Jojo stumbles upon his mother's hanged corpse in the town square. Suddenly, everything becomes a lot more serious.
    • The swimming-pool scene becomes a lot less funny when you suddenly start noticing all the mutilated people in the background –- presumably soldiers who were wounded in battle. It's not the only scene that shows this, either.
    • The Gestapo scene bounces back and forth between an Overly-Long Gag and genuine menace for the protagonists.
    • The dramatic and bloody battle sequence is spliced with Yorki's clumsiness and delivery of various comedic lines.
    • Waititi's portrayal of Hitler starts out as a harmless bozo, but shifts to the menacing, angry Hitler of propaganda films, before finally dissolving into the unhinged, defeated, suicidal Hitler akin to the historical figure's portrayal in Downfall.
  • Mundane Horror: The Gestapo scene. To a viewer unfamiliar with the historical context, it would seem like a lighthearted comedy episode, since the Gestapo agents appear polite and outright humorous. However, once you know the implications, the scene has a deeply unsettling feel.
  • My Fist Forgives You: At the end of the movie, Jojo, who is afraid Elsa will leave him all alone now that the war is over, lies to her and says that the Germans won. Shortly afterwards, he decides to let her leave anyway, saying he'll help her escape. Moments after they leave the house, they see American soldiers drive by waving a big American flag and cheering. Elsa turns around and slaps Jojo, but seems to let it go after that.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • Jojo fabricates a letter purportedly from Elsa's fiance where he breaks up with her, which reduces her to tears (not because she believed it –- Jojo does not do a good impression –- but from its mean-spiritedness). Rather than take pleasure in his victory, he regrets his behavior and makes up a second letter that takes back some of the nastier things he wrote.
    • Jojo gets a double-whammy towards the end. First, the normally Affably Evil Hitler goes on a violent and unhinged rant after Jojo hides Elsa from the Gestapo, which causes Jojo to see Hitler for what he truly is. Secondly, there's the War Is Hell moment with the American-Russian invasion, where Jojo really takes in all the cruel reality of the Nazis using child soldiers, including his friend Yorki, in a last-ditch attempt to stave off the inevitable defeat that the Nazis tried so fervently to deny, a denial that he fell for at first.
    • A quieter version happens with the Hitler Youth bullies who mock Jojo for not being old or capable enough to go to war. As they're leaving to go to the front, they mock Jojo one more time for being a chicken. Later, Jojo sees them returning from the front, shellshocked, maimed, and defeated, staring at Jojo with something like regret.
  • Neck Snap: The rabbit gets killed this way.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Though it's ultimately a relatively minor aspect of the movie, the trailers mostly feature the Hitler Youth camp scenes. For the parts that don't, they appear to have digitally toned down the scars on Jojo's face from when he blows himself up with a grenade at the camp.
  • No Hugging, No Kissing: Jojo refers to Elsa as his "girlfriend" when talking to his friend Yorki. But, when Jojo confesses his love for her, they both agree they're better off as brother and sister. Although Elsa offers Jojo a kiss earlier, he doesn't think a "sympathy kiss" counts and declines.
  • Now What?: Where Jojo, Elsa, and Yorki will go from here is anyone's guess.
  • Oh, No... Not Again!: Non-verbally, but Jojo's Character Development is on show when Yorki tells him about the Russian and Allied forces invading, claiming that Jews are no longer their biggest concern because the Ruskies and Allies "eat babies and have sex with dogs". Jojo's expression shows that he recognises this as completely ridiculous bullshit, just like the anti-Jew propaganda he had previously bought into.
  • Only Sane Man: Rosie and Captain Klenzendorf are the only adults who seem to truly understand that the war has taken a turn against the Axis powers, and it's only a matter of time before it's all over. Klenzendorf, towards the end, is just preparing for the inevitable assault on the town, and is past the point of caring about any sort of ideology he might have held at one point.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Thomasin McKenzie's New Zealand accent is often pretty noticeable. Archie Yates's accent slips so much it's bordering on Not Even Bothering with the Accent.
  • Overly-Long Gag: When the Gestapo arrives, each member gives a "Heil Hitler" to whomever they're talking to, one at a time, with each mention getting a "Heil Hitler" in response. This happens with four different people, though the final occurrence is decidedly not funny.
  • Pants-Positive Safety: After Rosie refuses to let Fräulein Rahm give Jojo a revolver, Rahm sticks it into the waistband of her skirt.
  • Plot Armor: All three of the main child characters (Jojo, Elsa, and Yorki) survive to the end of the film, which Yorki lampshades:
    Jojo: Yorki! I thought you were dead.
    Yorki: No, it seems I can never die.
  • Posthumous Character: Jojo's sister Inge has already died by the start of the film.
  • Precision F-Strike:
    • Jojo lets off an "Oh, shit" near the beginning of the movie when he throws a grenade at training camp and it bounces off a tree and lands right next to his feet.
    • Rosie calls Jojo "Shitler" at one point.
    • "Fuck off, Hitler!"
  • Pretty Little Headshots: Averted. When Jojo hears that Hitler has shot himself, Imaginary Hitler shows up with a dark wound dripping down the side of his head.
  • Propaganda Machine: Jojo and his peers have been indoctrinated in the Hitler Youth, and after his grenade accident, he's put to work distributing propaganda posters.
  • Protagonist Title: "Jojo Rabbit" is the main protagonist's nickname.
  • Recurring Camera Shot: Most of the time Jojo's mother enters a scene, the first shot of her is a close up on her feet. In the very last scene she appears in, there's a close-up of Jojo standing up from being bent over and seeing her feet as she hangs from the town square gallows.
  • La Résistance: Jojo learns that both his parents are involved in the German resistance against the Nazis, with his father actively fighting while his mother harbors a Jew and distributes anti-Nazi leaflets.
  • Rewatch Bonus: The Gestapo scene initially seems to be a routine inspection. But, on another viewing, it's clear they're checking up on Rosie's house after she's been caught and likely already executed.
  • Rule of Funny:
    • In the end, Elsa and Jojo show off some anachronistic dance moves that weren't around in the 1940s, but it's funnier that way.
    • Waititi's whole performance as Hitler, as he just improvised everything about the character after deciding that a realistic Hitler would not be entertaining or appropriate for the film.
  • Running Gag:
    • Elsa taking away Jojo's knife each time he tries to confront her. Later, Rosie complains that all the kitchen knives are missing.
    • People (including Jojo himself and Imaginary Hitler) commenting on how hideously deformed Jojo is from getting blown up by a grenade, even though he really doesn't look too bad.
    • Adolf offering Jojo a cigarette, which he refuses because he's only ten.
  • Secret Room: Elsa is hidden in a room behind Inge's room.
  • Sent Into Hiding: Elsa hides in Jojo and Rosie's house, due to being a Jew during the Holocaust.
  • Shell-Shock Silence: After a bomb goes off in the street during the climax, all sound is temporarily drowned out.
  • Shout-Out: Elsa's fiancé Nathan proposed to her with a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke. Jojo then goes to the library, borrows a collection of Rilke's poems, and incorporates lines from the poems into his faked letters from Nathan to Elsa. The movie also ends with a quote from Rilke.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: When Hitler goes through a Villainous Breakdown, Jojo finally rejects him and kicks him out a window, shouting, "Fuck off, Hitler!"
  • The Snack Is More Interesting: When Klenzendorf is introduced, he takes a few bites on an apple before deciding to give his attention to the kids at the camp.
  • Sound-Only Death: Klenzendorf dies this way.
  • Spanner in the Works: Klenzendorf almost borders on a Deus ex Machina with how timely and unexpected his appearances can get.
    • Klenzendorf interrupts the Gestapo search of Jojo's house. It's only because of Klenzendorf that Jojo and Elsa escape the Gestapo search unharmed; Klenzendorf makes sure he's the one to inspect Elsa/"Inge"s papers and lets her get away with giving the wrong birthdate.
    • When the Allies invade, Jojo is rounded up because he's got a uniform jacket on. Klenzendorf, also captured, specifically picks out Jojo from the group, offers an apology for laughing at his book and condolences about his mother's death, then rips off Jojo's jacket and suddenly starts calling him a "dirty Jew". The Russians are about to start executing the Nazis by firing squad, but now believe Jojo is a wrongly-rounded up Jew and let him go at the last minute.
  • Suicide Attack: Fraulein Rahm sends Hitler Youth boys out with live grenades strapped to their backs for the battle, telling them to "hug" American soldiers.
  • Table Space: When Jojo and his mother have a dispute at supper, their emotional distance is emphasized by them sitting at opposite ends of the table.
  • Taught to Hate: The title character is a young German boy who is being indoctrinated into Nazi ideology by the Hitler Youth organization. Jojo's antisemitic views are challenged after he discovers that his mother is hiding a Jewish girl named Elsa in their home and gradually develops a friendship with her.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Every Nazi seen in the trailers is depicted in the most ridiculous way possible, from a cowboy-wannabe to a youth camp leader who instructs her pupils to happily burn books around a giant bonfire. Eventually, the Nazis become decidedly less funny.
  • Time-Compression Montage: The time Jojo spends with Elsa during the winter of 1944/45 after his mother dies is captured in a number of key shots set to the song "Everybody's Gotta Live" by Love.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: All of Hitler's advice tends to backfire badly for Jojo. In the end, Jojo realizes that Hitler is a megalomaniac and literally kicks him out of his life, sending him flying through his bedroom window.
  • Translation Convention: German speech is translated into English with a German accent, apart from a few minor words that go untranslated, like "heil" and "tschüss." All text, however, is untranslated German, which is rendered into English when read aloud. The American and Soviet soldiers speak English with American accents. Apart from a few critical lines, it's mostly shouts of "hey!" and a few barely comprehensible curses. Presumably, the soldier who removes Jojo from the firing squad area and tells him to go home in clear audio is a translator speaking German to him.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Drinking wine is referred to as "chewing some grapes".
  • Visual Pun:
    • Captain Klenzendorf is blind in one eye. He turns a blind eye to Elsa pretending to be Jojo's deceased sister Inge (he's reading Inge's papers with his head noticeably tilted, i.e. he's reading them with his glass eye), knowing Inge's birthday was actually May 7th when Elsa says it's May 1st and choosing to let it slide. He implies at the end that he was aware of the resistance work Rosie was doing.
    • Elsa has spent months living in a bolthole to escape Nazi persecution. When she looks into a mirror, she wipes her face and mutters, "What a dirty Jew." The "dirty Jew" rhetoric that sent her into hiding has made her literally dirty.
  • War Crime Subverts Heroism: Soldiers from the liberating Soviet forces execute prisoners of war at the end of the movie.
  • Wham Line: At the end, Elsa admits to Jojo that her fiance Nathan isn't actually alive: he died from tuberculosis over a year ago.
  • Wham Shot: Jojo chases a butterfly through the town square, keeping his head down, and when he stands up after it flies away, we see his mother's feet dangling next to him, having been hanged by the Gestapo for being a member of the resistance.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Rosie gives her son several small ones for his blind devotion to Hitler, though none seem to take. Elsa gives a silent, but violent, one with a slap when she realises Jojo had lied to her about Germany's victory due to his fear she'd leave, which he quickly acknowledges he deserved.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: Rosie's accent occasionally sounds like a mix of German and French. Maybe she's from Strasborg or thereabouts.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The Nazis have no compunctions about using the Hitler Youth in combat roles, knowing it will get them injured or killed. Similarly, the Soviet soldiers at the end plan to shoot Jojo and other Hitler Youth boys (he's spared, the rest aren't).

Let everything happen to you
Beauty and terror
Just keep going
No feeling is final.


Video Example(s):


Frau Betzler

Rosie Betzler is protective of her son Jojo and isn't afraid to slap a Nazi officer around for his wellbeing.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / AlmightyMom

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