Seemingly stuck in limited release, we’ve been trying to find this one in a moderately convenient theater. As it turns out, Jojo Rabbit was not quite the movie we expected, but it was worth the wait and worth seeing in the theater. The critic taglines about the film all remark on its humor and brilliance as a satire. It earns these accolades, but it also deals somewhat seriously with the darker subjects of Germany’s last days in the Second World War.

Jojo Rabbit is not a spoof or parody – it is a satire. The film is a look at the war in Germany through the eyes of a 10 year old boy, a wannabe fanatical member of the Hitlerjugen whose imaginary friend is Adolf Hitler (played by the director Taika Waititi).

The casting is excellent. Eleven-year-old Roman Griffin Davis as the titular character did a fantastic job in a brilliant script. Scarlett Johanson as his mother and Sam Rockwell as his disgraced “scout” leader are both strong and portray a hidden plot of anti-Nazi sentiment that is subtly implied yet critical to the story. Rebel Wilson is hilarious in her disturbing role as the girl “scouts” leader. Thomasin McKenzie rounds out the cast as the Jewish girl Jojo’s mother is hiding, and she delivers a believable – if comedy-leaned – performance.

The subject matter has raised some controversy. I had some history with this when I worked on the editorial staff of a book that received similar ire – for similar reasons. As usual the angriest are people who haven’t deigned to view the actual content. “How can you make fun of Hitler?”  Jojo Rabbit answers: “How can you not?”

Locked into Jojo’s point of view, our understanding of the events expands as he gains a better understanding of the world – the real world – around him. Jojo’s fanaticism would be frightening in an adult, but Jojo is a child who just wants to be part of the club. Even his imaginary friend takes on proportions and mannerisms that are more like how a 10 year old would imagine his supreme leader rather than being historically accurate. Hitler was famously a religious, non-smoking, vegetarian teetotaler. Jojo’s friend routinely offers him cigarettes to calm down and holds personal banquets where he dines on Unicorn. (Jojo never partakes of the cigarettes. Eventually getting annoyed at the offering, he screams, “Stop offering me cigarettes. I’m ten!”)

The dialog is terrific; the film is packed with lines that had us chuckling later. The heavier moments, though, are delivered in near silence, letting the visuals do the talking, and it bears mentioning that the screen work is at the same level as the other aspects – excellent. Being PG-13 it has the traditional single F-Bomb, which it uses in probably the most appropriate way ever.

I cannot say enough about this masterful piece of cinema. At the same time I need only say that you should see it. Jojo Rabbit deserves to be enjoyed in the theater.