(Last updated on 5 March 2020)

In this controversial but actually very funny comedy set in Nazi Germany during the last months of the Second World War, a ten-year-old boy turns to his imaginary friend Adolf Hitler for advice when he discovers that his mother is hiding a Jewish girl in her attic…

History

Somewhere in Germany during the last months of the Second World War, Johannes Jojo Betzler (Roman Griffin Davis) spends his days playing war games with Hitler Youth and talking to his imaginary friend who looks like Adolf Hitler (Tyke Weittie).

He lives alone with his mother Rosie (Scarlett Johansson), while his father is said to have served as a soldier in Italy. One day older members of the Hitler Youth order Jojo to kill the rabbit, but he can’t bring himself to do so, tries to let it go and runs away in tears. The others nicknamed him Jojo’s Bunny.

A scene from Jojo Bunny. 2019 The fox of the 20th century

When Jojo comes home, he discovers that his mother is hiding a young Jewish girl named Elsa (Thomasin Mackenzie) in her house. At first scared, Jojo develops a bond and eventually even feelings for Elsa. But it is also very embarrassing for John, because all he remembers about the Jews is that they are bad and bad people. Ever since he spent more time with Elsa, the way he’s falling apart… …but will it be enough to save her from the constant danger of being discovered?

A scene from Jojo Bunny. 2019 The fox of the 20th century

Habitats of the yo-yo rabbit

Like many other films shot in pre-war Germany, Jojo the Rabbit was shot in the Czech Republic. Streets and buildings here often look exactly as they did before the Allied bombing raids in Germany during the Second World War, which destroyed many old buildings in German cities.

According to IMDb, there are several Krolik Jojo cinemas in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic.

To find out more about what you can see and do in Prague, read my article
A guide for movie lovers in Prague.

IMDb identifies the Pecka Palace (Politických vězňů 931/20) as one of the locations for the film Krolik Joy in Prague. This neoclassical building from the 1920s was originally a bank and later, when the Nazis occupied the Czech Republic during the Second World War, the headquarters of the Gestapo. Numerous interrogations and tortures of Czech resistance fighters have taken place here. The exterior of the building was also used as a film location for The Bourne Identity (2002).

Petrček Palace in Prague, one of the locations of the film Rabbit John.
Photo: Wikipedia companies. By VitVit – Personal Work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Other locations for the film Krolik Joy in the Czech Republic are the small Czech towns of Ustek (street scenes), Zatec (outdoor scenes for the main square), Hcebuz (outdoor scenes) and the former sugar factory Kukrovar Leněšice for the street fights at the end of the film.

Power

Before watching this film I didn’t really know if I should make a joke about something as serious as the Second World War, the Nazis and the Holocaust. The fact that I am German myself makes this subject even more delicate. Of course in this period there were earlier attempts of the comic strip genre, also from Germany. For example with the comedy Look Who’s Back (2015) – filmed in Berlin, Germany, which tells the story of how Hitler will wake up from his grave in 2014 under the Berlin car park and then travel through modern Germany.

To find out more, read my review of the film See who’s back (2015) – shot in Berlin, Germany.

What bothered me a bit about this film was that some historical details seemed to have been misunderstood. For example, Jojo’s mother, played by Scarlett Johansson, and the Jew she hides in the attic, almost always wears trousers. I may be wrong, but I don’t think ordinary women in those days wore pants very often. Although it was already possible, only very famous and famous women like Marlene Dietrich were allowed to wear trousers.

A scene from Jojo Bunny. 2019 The fox of the 20th century

The other thing wrong with the movie was Hitler’s salvation.

At the 2020 Oscars, Jojo’s Bunny was nominated for six Oscar nominations, including Best Picture. He won an Oscar for best screenplay editing.

Taika Vaititi was born and raised in New Zealand and has directed, directed and played in several films that have made waves outside his homeland. My favorite was the vampire comedy What We Do in the Shadows (2014).

For more details, see my review of What We Do in the Shadow (2014) – shot in Wellington, New Zealand).

My final verdict: Much more fun than I expected, with the serious and important message that the boy just wants to be part of the club.

**** 4 or 5 stars

Tell me what you think of this controversial comedy in the following comments!

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