I broke up laughing in the first five minutes at the absurd, cartoonish and frightening imaginary friendship that has Hitler talking to the kid like he's a workout bro at the gym -- "Heil me, man!" When Jojo sees how quickly the girl in the attic moves, Adolf remarks unhappily that she's "like a little female Jewish Jesse Owens." I laughed. Later I was shocked and I was deeply touched.
I left South Central Los Angeles to attend a university in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I was a college student when Gerald Ford was president after Nixon resigned. One chilly, cloudy afternoon in the fall, a Puerto Rican buddy from my dorm floor and I took a walk downtown on Wisconsin Avenue. We were headed to the civic center area with movie theaters, stage theaters and department stores. We got to Gimbels, a top department store at the time with a famous branch in New York City. My buddy, Miguel, and I looked at the Gimbels entrance. Our jaws dropped down to the sidewalk like we were characters in an old Tex Avery cartoon. There, near the front doors of Gimbels, were two Nazis. Men wearing brown shirts with armbands and handing out leaflets. One Milwaukee pedestrian saw us staring and said, "Oh, just ignore them."
I got the immediate feeling that if it's 1931 in Berlin, it's the 1970s in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. When I worked on Milwaukee radio in the late 70s, after graduation, I received some racial hate mail with swastikas drawn on the stationery. My point is -- I don't think the dark legacy of Hitler is such a "dead bull" nowadays. I applaud Taiki Waititi for using his talents to shout down hate and intolerance. He does that within a coming-of-age tale that's also a love story with gorgeous cinematography.
I think JOJO RABBIT will get Oscar nominations for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay.