Ahead of its TIFF premiere, a new trailer for Jojo Rabbit has been released, which doubles down on the satirical tone of the teaser. There are lots of “bumbling idiots” hijinks, and Taika Waititi is in bright blue contacts as Imaginary Friend Hitler which is a GREAT touch, a subtle reminder that the real Hitler looked nothing like his Aryan ideal. But this trailer also gives a better sense of the conflict and the emotional core of the movie—Jojo’s mom is hiding a young Jewish girl in their house, which conflicts with Jojo’s naïve dedication to the Nazi cause. The girl is played by Thomasin McKenzie, who was devastatingly good in Debra Granik’s Leave No Trace. There is a lot of funny stuff in this trailer, but I have no doubt Jojo Rabbit will trigger some tears, too.
There are a couple things to keep an eye on with this movie. One is Scarlett Johansson. She is coming off rave reviews in Venice for her performance in Marriage Story, which is a more dramatic and leading-lady effort, so I expect it to be the centerpiece of her inevitable Oscar run. But doing a solid turn in a movie like Jojo Rabbit can enhance that campaign, as it reminds everyone of her range. What’s so annoying about her whole “I should be able to play trees and animals” line is that there is a lot ScarJo can do within her own wheelhouse, she doesn’t need to take roles from anyone to prove herself. There are plenty of opportunities for her—like giving dramatic, comedic, and blockbuster action performances in the same year—without filching from an underrepresented community’s opportunities. The double whammy of Marriage Story and Jojo Rabbit is a way for her to quietly reposition her unsavory comments.
The other angle to watch is The Discourse. I’m not linking to it because I’m not feeding the hit/click farm even for hate clicks, but I’ve already seen one major YouTuber miss the boat completely and not see the satire in the way Taika is portraying the Nazis in this movie. It could not be more blatant, but this is why when I wrote up the teaser, I specifically mentioned my concern that people who only know Taika through Thor: Ragnarok are maybe not going to be prepared for the way he mixes comedy and drama in his films. That same YouTuber, by the way, is already out here defending Joker, despite not having seen it yet, from even the mildest takes of “Hey maybe this isn’t the best way to handle this character at this time”. So keep an eye on this, because I think Jojo Rabbit and Joker could get sucked into a kind of proxy DC-Marvel thing and we might see a lot more people thinking Jojo Rabbit, a satire, “goes too far” while the straightforward dramatic character study of a psychopath is totally fine and has no responsibility toward the reality it reflects. The cinematic discourse in late 2019 is going to F-CKING SUCK.