Sometimes a movie has passionate fans and strong detractors and both groups have valid points. This is the case with writer-director Taika Waititi's Nazi satire Jojo Rabbit.
Roman Griffin Davis plays a 10-year-old member of the Hitler Youth in Nazi Germany. He's a social outcast, so he has an imaginary friend in none other than Hitler himself (Waititi). Davis' world is turned upside down when he discovers his mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding an adolescent Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie) in their home.
Turning a story about such a dark period in history into a comedy requires a delicate tonal balancing act. Jojo Rabbit does not master this in the same way that last year's excellent The Death of Stalin did. The tone can wildly shift from scene to scene here. There are genuinely heartbreaking moments juxtaposed with overlong ripoffs of jokes from Spies Like Us.
While some of the jokes fall flat, Waititi is still a director worth watching (he helmed the inspired vampire comedy What We Do in the Shadows and made one of the few Marvel films - Thor: Ragnarok - that felt like it came from an auteur and wasn't just an assembly-line product). His visual compositions are often striking, and even when the mixture of the wacky with the deadly serious doesn't work, he still deserves credit for taking risks.
Jojo Rabbit will likely irritate some viewers, but it's distinctive enough and has enough going for it that it will likely garner a cult following, too.