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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Taika Waititi
Cast:
Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKenzie, Taika Waititi
Writing Credits:
Taika Waititi

Synopsis:
A young boy in Hitler's army finds out his mother hides a Jewish girl in their home.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13.

DISC DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
Spanish

Runtime: 108 min.
Price: $34.98
Release Date:2/18/2020
Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Taika Waititi and Guests
• “Inside Jojo Rabbit” Featurette
• Deleted Scenes
• Outtakes
• Trailers


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RELATED REVIEWS


Jojo Rabbit [Blu-Ray] (2019)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 16, 2020)

When we last saw Taiki Waititi, he earned praise and profits as the director of 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok. A massive international hit, it would make sense for Waititi to choose another big-budget blockbuster as his follow-up, right?

Nope. Rather than pursue another mega-smash, Waititi went from something smaller and quirkier via 2019’s Jojo Rabbit, a quirky coming of age tale.

Set in Germany toward the end of World War II, 10-year-old Johannes "Jojo" Betzler (Roman Griffin Davis) lives with his mother Rosie (Scarlett Johansson). His father supposedly fights for the Nazis in Italy, but they’ve not heard from him in years, and his older sister Inge recently died from an illness.

Though Rosie wants nothing more than an end to the war, Jojo admires all things National Socialist – so much so that he conjures Adolf Hitler as his imaginary friend (Waititi). Along with his rotund pal Yorki (Archie Yates), Jojo dives into Hitler Youth training and desires to kill all Jews.

This starts to change when Jojo discovers that his mother harbors a teenaged Jewish girl named Elsa Korr (Thomasin McKenzie) in a hidden space. Though Jojo initially despises and fears her, their relationship grows.

If you watch trailers for Rabbit, you’ll expect a wild, satirical comedy – and you’ll get that for a while. With opening credits that feature adulation for Hitler accompanied by the Beatles’ “Komm Gib Mir Deine Hand” – their German version of “I Want to Hold Your Hand” – the movie embraces absurdity for its first act.

This means a series of broad characterizations and zany circumstances. Waititi makes his Hitler anachronistic, as Imaginary Adolf speaks in distinctly 21st century ways, another factor that adds to the lunacy.

As the film progresses, however, it morphs into something deeper. Much of this follows a fairly standard “coming of age” trend, though obviously the setting adds a different slant.

That’s because most stories about childhood maturation don’t involve Nazis and Anne Frank-esque hideaways. The location always gives the tale a twist, but it doesn’t obscure the narrative at the heart.

Though I suspect some will feel disappointed that Rabbit doesn’t deliver 108 minutes of pure satirical wackiness, I feel happy that it takes deeper and darker turns. The comedy works fairly well for a while, and a cast abetted by Sam Rockwell, Rebel Wilson and Stephen Merchant adds to the mirth, but I think the film would grow tedious if it solely stayed on that track.

Let’s face it: the mockery of Nazis seems like a one-way street, as there’s really no counter-argument to embrace. Actually, I expected Waititi to imbue Rabbit with parallels to modern society and the rise of another world leader who inspires a rabid, unthinking cult – cough cough – but he avoids that trap.

Which I view as a good thing. As tempting – and perhaps appropriate – as it might be to equate the blind mania of the Nazis to current events, that theme threatens to wear out its welcome via other media representations. This topic would’ve fit Rabbit in an awkward manner that would make the movie seem forced.

The focus on the relationship between Jojo and Elsa feels natural and it allows for our title character to evolve in a gradual manner. Jojo doesn’t change overnight, and Waititi depicts his growth well.

As actors, Davis and McKenzie show a nice chemistry, and they allow their many shared scenes to prosper. Neither overplays their roles, and they act as the beating heart of the drama.

At times, the use of Imaginary Adolf feels gimmicky, but in the end, I think that choice – as well as the broader comedy of the first act – makes sense. We’re meant to view events through the eyes of a 10-year-old, so the fanciful elements fit, especially since they decrease as Jojo matures.

All of this adds up to a pretty powerful coming of age tale. Rabbit lures in the viewer with its outrageous bits but it succeeds due to its heart and depth.


The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus B-

Jojo Rabbit appears in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a largely satisfactory presentation.

Overall sharpness seemed solid. On occasion, interiors looked a smidgen soft, but those were the exception to the rule, as the majority of the flick was accurate and detailed.

No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I noticed no edge haloes. Source flaws were absent, as the movie looked consistently clean.

In terms of palette, Rabbit focused on amber, with a fair amount of green and teal as well. Within those parameters, the hues were positive.

Blacks seemed deep and dark, while shadows felt appropriately dense. This was generally an appealing image.

As for the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Rabbit, it lacked a ton of ambition. The soundfield focused on music and ambience, though it opened up on occasion, mainly in terms of a few war-related scenes. Nothing especially memorable occurred, though.

Audio quality was fine. Speech seemed natural and concise, without edginess or other issues. Music offered good clarity and range, and effects worked well enough.

They didn’t often have much to do, but they appeared reasonably accurate. All of this ended up as a perfectly satisfactory soundtrack for this sort of movie.

When we shift to extras, we begin with an audio commentary from writer/director Taika Waititi. Although this occasionally delivers a solo running, screen-specific chat from Waititi, he also uses much of the space with phone calls to guests.

In that vein, we hear his short conversations with actors Roman Griffin Davis, Stephen Merchant, Sam Rockwell, Rebel Wilson, and Alfie Allen. Wilson also makes a brief in-studio appearance.

I disliked Waititi’s commentary for Ragnarok. While he offered occasional nuggets of information, he joked around too much and didn’t deliver much substance.

I hoped that Waititi would rebound for Rabbit, but that doesn’t prove true. When left on his own, he proves nearly worthless.

During Waititi’s solo parts of the commentary, he gives us a few basics. These remain minor, though, and Waititi lets much of the space pass without any content, as he often says “let’s watch the movie”.

Matters improve when Waititi involves his guests, though even then, the comments tend to feel lackluster. Most of these chats opt for fairly banal notes and don’t give us much concrete material.

The only exception comes from Waititi’s conversation with Merchant, and that occurs entirely because Merchant asks the filmmaker lots of questions. For a too-brief segment, Merchant evokes real details from Waititi and gives us useful information.

Alas, that’s about all we get. The occasional valuable nugget emerges the rest of the way, but most of the commentary becomes a dull disappointment.

Three Deleted Scenes appear: “Imaginary Göring” (2:06), “Little Piggies” (3:44) and “Adolf Dies Again” (3:14). All three feature Jojo with Hitler.

The first two focus on comedy, whereas the third comes at the film’s end. I like all three – especially the hilarious “Göring” – but they don’t add to the overall narrative, so I understand why they got the boot.

A collection of Outtakes spans three minutes, 26 seconds. It shows the usual goofs/giggles, but we get a few fun improv moments as well.

In addition to two trailers, we finish with Inside Jojo Rabbit, a 26-minute, 46-second program. It brings comments from Waititi, Rockwell, Allen, Davis, Wilson, Merchant, producer Carthew Neal, costume designer Mayes C. Rubeo, acting coach Rachel House, makeup/hair designer Dannelle Satherley, visual effects supervisor Jason Chen, production designer Ra Vincent, and actors Thomasin McKenzie and Scarlett Johansson.

“Inside” looks at the source and its adaptation, story/characters, cast and performances, Waititi’s impact as director, production and costume design, and locations. Though a bit on the fluffy side, “Inside” comes with a generally positive array of notes about the production.

Though trailers promised a wacky black comedy, Jojo Rabbit instead focused on a coming of age drama. This shift works and helps make this an effective tale. The Blu-ray brings generally good picture and audio along with a few supplements brought down by a frustrating commentary. Ambitious and engaging, Rabbit becomes an effective tale.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.3333 Stars Number of Votes: 3
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