Fox Searchlight

11: Jojo Rabbit Review

(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

Recently, we have had a bit of a resurgence of people talking about comedy, and what is okay and not okay to joke about anymore. The main philosophy I go by with my style of comedy is that you can make a joke about anything, but if you can't make a joke about something dicey and “hot button” in nature funny, then don't do the joke. Many of the shock jock comedians complain about the current climate while having no sense of irony that they get paid millions for specials to spew shock humor. These are the same types of comedians that die by the wayside due to not being able to grow as comedians. I tend to find my favorite comedy individuals to be able to grow, expand, and still be funny and creative, while not punching down on other races and cultures. 

I bring this up, because so many film fans cry about how you can't make a Mel Brooks-style comedy today, but don't get the context and commentary that people like Mel Brooks use in their films. You can make a Mel Brooks-style comedy today, but you would have to make it work in today's climate. Many of the most iconic comedies and films are made in a time and place that just so happen to have the right people and the right kind of humor for its time. It's why so many of us were excited about today's review, Jojo Rabbit, a film written, produced, and directed by Taika Waititi. 

We follow a 10-year-old boy named Jojo Betzler, played by Roman Griffin Davis. He's a boy growing up in Germany during World War II, and is learning how to be a Nazi. He idolizes the ways of Hitler to the point of having an imaginary friend version of Hitler, played by Taika Waititi himself. However, while idolizing the views of the Nazi party, he's not really into it. One day, Jojo finds out that his mother Rosie Betzler, played by Scarlett Johansson, is hiding a Jewish girl named Elsa Korr, played by Thomasin McKenzie, inside their house. While despising her because of the propaganda he has been fed, he slowly starts to bond with the girl, and starts to question his ethics. 

imageedit_5_9181577198.png

So, let's talk about the elephant in the room, the commentary and how it handles the Nazi party. Are we looking at a The Great Dictator, Dr. Strangelove, and the original The Producers, or are we looking at a Skin situation? Well, the good news is that we are on the side of the former. It’s more of a Wes Anderson-style film. While there is plenty to talk about with how Taika takes the power away from the Nazi individuals you see in the film, including how he portrays Hitler as this bratty 10-year-old version of what the boy thinks of the infamous individual, a lot of the heart and focus of the story is more about the dynamics Jojo has with his mother, the girl, and how he interacts with people, like Sam Rockwell's Captain Klenzendorf. It is a smart comedic drama that, like The Death of Stalin, does not shy away from the fact that this group of people did horrible things. 

 By this description of the film, it sounds like this would be a tonally challenging film, and yeah, I can understand that. When you have a film that balances out the mature subject material, but has a healthy dose of witty writing and comedy, it could easily be a mess. Luckily, this is Taika, and I found the balance to be great. It pulls back the humor too when it's needed, and it never felt like he had to force a joke into a scene that did not need it. I liked how he handled the characters. I think everyone is well defined and has layers to them. I know it's easy to see someone like Rockwell playing yet another racist character in such a short amount of time, but his character is more like a guy who's not enjoying himself and is trying to play tough. In a lot of ways, that is how Taika portrays everyone in the Nazi party, as a bunch of try-hard blowhards who are putting on a facade in a war they will soon be losing dramatically. Again, a lot of the time is spent upon Jojo and Elsa, and while it's not a Moonrise Kingdom-style romance, it's a story that shows a strong bond between the two kids that have grown up in different worlds. 

imageedit_3_8988714452.jpg

 Jojo Rabbit was a delightful experience that I was fortunate enough to see at Fantastic Fest. It might not be for everyone, and I will not be shocked if you watch this film and not enjoy it, but I highly recommend checking it out at least once when it comes out in October. If you want Fox Searchlight, the distributor behind Jojo Rabbit to stay in a stable condition under the house of mouse, then supporting projects like this is going to be the right thing to do. It’s an experience unlike any other film this year, and I would definitely Play It Again!

Thanks for reading the review! I hope you all enjoyed reading it! If you would like to support my work, make sure to share it out, and if you want to become a Patreon supporter, then you can go to patreon.com/camseyeview. I will see you all next time!

10: Ready or Not Review

imageedit_1_6875019975.png

(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

It shouldn’t be hard to market a movie. You have all of the footage that may or may not be used in the final cut, you are told to show off what the film is about in two minutes. It shouldn’t be that hard, but studios and distributors find ways to bend and stretch what the film is about because they don’t have faith in the end product. There are many examples of a film being marketed, and the trailers showing off a film that’s not actually what the end product is. You have your Collateral Beauty, your I Kill Giants, and so on. That’s why it is refreshing when you watch a trailer, and what you see, is what you get. Today’s review is of a film that isn’t shy or nervous to hide what it’s about, Ready or Not from Fox Searchlight and directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett. 

 

imageedit_3_2209697406.jpg

The story revolves around a newlywed bride named Grace, played by Samara Weaving, who is marrying the son of a wealthy family that has made who knows how many millions off of board games. On the night of the wedding ceremony, Grace is told that she has to play a game with the family. It’s a tradition that anyone new joining the family has to play a game with them. Grace ends up pulling a card from a specific box, and the card says Hide and Seek. It then turns into an adult game of the classic children’s game, but instead of innocent fun, it turns into a game of survival as Grace is hunted down by the family. Can Grace survive until dawn, and why do they want to kill her? 

 

I adore movies like Ready or Not. It reminds me of my Upgrade review, what you see is what you get. Do you want a movie about a newlywed bride? You got it! You want to see said bride running for her life because a wealthy family has an insane and idiotic ritual when introducing people into the family? That’s there, too! Do you want the movie to be aware of its entire premise and have fun with it? It’s all there in this movie! The film is very aware of how insane the premise is, and runs with it! The family members are fleshed out to have their different quirks, but the film never comes off like it is trying to be like 21 Jump Street. It's aware, but it's not 100% winking at the audience. The family members are all on the same page, and are a blast to watch try and take down the bride. They are a threat and are dangerous, but some are bumbling, one of the family members is tired of this ritual, one is trying too hard, and the eldest sister is delightfully over-the-top. 

 

imageedit_5_8897840745.jpg

Of course, if the film was just all about the killer family, then it would have been boring. Most horror films fall into the trap of making the killer or threat the most interesting part, and it's understandable, but you do want to root for the lead characters, and you do so with Samara Weaving. You might remember the family members, but Samara is the one pulling everyone through this movie. She's smart and is quick on her feet. You root for her as she tries to outsmart the family members, and, as I mentioned above, she is also on the same page as everyone else. 

 

Now, in terms of ratio of action, scares, and comedy, it's pretty even. It's not "I'm going to be your next month of nightmare fuel” scary, but it will keep you on your toes and make you worry about what could be behind every corner, and who might be there with what weapon. The jokes are at the expense of the rich family. While Samara has her moments of good comedy, the family members are the individuals with the best lines and the best gags. They do show off a few jokes in the trailer, but there are still plenty of laughs and intense moments hidden from the trailers and marketing. 

 

The production values alone show that they had a vision of how they wanted every scene to look. The mansion itself is pleasantly gothic and archaic, the weapons used are old-fashioned, the lighting is perfectly dim, and the few CGI effects that are in the film are schlocky, but schlocky in the way you want them to be for a film like this. 

 

imageedit_9_3579174846.png

If I had one real major issue with the film, it's that some elements could have been taken a bit more to the extreme. The film does such a good job at flipping common and abused tropes used in horror films like this, and they are executed so well, that you wish they went a bit further. They could have used more gore, more dark comedy punchlines, more awareness, and maybe a slightly different ending. I won't spoil what happens for those who haven't seen it, but I wish they kept flipping the tropes around a touch more, even though I still like what happens with the ending. 

 

imageedit_7_4585781794.png

Sure, this isn't some masterpiece I'm going to expect to see at award season, and I'm sure it's not going to be in my final top 10 of 2019 live-action films, but it will definitely be a movie I can't wait to watch again. It's a film you rent or purchase for a fun laid-back Friday night get-together with friends. You get a few drinks and you watch the chaos unfold. I highly recommend checking this film out if you can find screenings for it, because its films like this that should be available in theaters. If you want more original projects getting major screen time, then you definitely need to see Ready or Not. It’s one where I will definitely be playing a game of Play it Again, Cam! 

 

Thanks for reading the review! I hope you all enjoyed it! If you feel like supporting my work, you can become a patron at patreon.com/camseyeview. I will see you all next time!