Jojo Rabbit

Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi has begun production on his next film, Jojo Rabbit, a dark comedy that features Waititi playing a child’s imaginary friend…who just happens to be Hitler.

“I’m stoked to begin shooting my anti-war satire. We’ve assembled an incredible cast and I couldn’t be more excited to finally ridicule Nazis and their beliefs. This film is going to piss off a lot of racists and that makes me very happy.” That’s the statement actor and director Taika Waititi released to announce production on his latest project Jojo Rabbit, because he’s someone who certainly knows how to sell a film.

Jojo Rabbit is a surreal-sounding comedy that stars Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, Rebel Wilson, Thomasin McKenzie, and newcomer Roman Griffin. The satire is set agains the backdrop of World War II, and follows “an awkward young German boy (Roman Griffin) raised by a single mother (Scarlett Johansson), and whose only ally is his imaginary friend Hitler (Waititi). His naïve patriotism is tested when he meets a young girl (Thomasin McKenzie) who upends his world views, forcing him to face his biggest fears.” We reported in the past that Rockwell is playing a Nazi Captain.

This whole project sounds both weird and wonderful, and I want to see it immediately. Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit script previously appeared on the 2012 Black List – the annual survey highlighting the hottest un-produced screenplays of the year, based on the votes of hundreds of executives. In that form, it had a slightly different synopsis than the one above:

After being severely hurt by a grenade at Hitler youth camp, a prideful and nationalistic ten-year old boy discovers that his mother is hiding a fifteen year old Jewish girl in their house.

“Taika is a master at bringing honesty and humanity to the surface in any story, all while allowing us to laugh. We could not be more thrilled to join him in the remarkable journey of Jojo Rabbit,” said Presidents of Production Matthew Greenfield and David Greenbaum.

“It’s my version of… a lonely boy’s best version of his hero, which is really his dad,” Waititi told The Wrap earlier this year. The Wrap also learned that that the “Hitler” in the film is described as “not the Adolf we know and hate”, but rather someone who is “goofy, charming, and glides through life with a child- like naivety.” So get ready to see Taika Waititi as goofy Hitler, folks.

What I like most about this whole endeavor – beyond the interesting-sounding plot and great cast – is that it’s an example of Waititi using his clout to get original material made. Every time Marvel snags a compelling filmmaker, I’m always hoping against hope that said filmmaker will use their new Marvel leverage to go off and make something new and original. But they almost never do. Waititi, however, is forging ahead with his own new material, and that’s exciting.

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