Movie Critic Paul McGuire Grimes sat down with the stars of the new movie, Jo Jo Rabbit. The movie is getting early Oscar buzz but Paul tells us if he thinks it’s worth the trip to go see it.
JOJO RABBIT (in theaters November 1)
Jojo is a 10 year old kid who enters Hitler’s youth army. He’s young, scrappy, and not very equipped to be a strong little soldier. He’s mocked by the other boys and nicknamed Jojo Rabbit. He’s being groomed by their regime only to learn that his mother, Rosie, is hiding a young Jewish girl in their cupboard. Jojo is absolutely bewildered and doesn’t know what to do with this information. He wants to believe and trust his mother, but this doesn’t sit well with the motto he’s been hearing at camp. This also doesn’t jive with his imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler, a bumbling idiot full of terrible ideas for Jojo.
-Starring: Roman Griffin Davis, Scarlett Johansson, Taika Waititi, Sam Rockwell, Rebel Wilson, Alfie Allen
-Taika Waititi, best known for Thor Ragnarok, wrote, directed, produced and also stars in the film as the imaginary Adolf Hitler. Adapted from the Christine Leunens’ book Caging Skies. It’s a wholly original and daring concept and you can see Waititi being influenced by Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator or Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove. These types of satires are a high wire act to balance correctly, and Waititi handles it all with great care.
-As an actor, he plays Hitler like a flamboyant cartoon in the eyes of this 10 year old who doesn’t know any better. He is the larger than life imaginary best friend. At first it feels a little uncomfortable to laugh at, but that’s what Waititi is going for with his satire. Throughout the film, he makes it clear that this isn’t just a broad comedy for belly laughs. He’s written the mother role played by Scarlett Johansson to be the heart of the film. Johansson is really lovely in a role that’s more playful and maternal than we’re used to seeing from her. As the film progresses, Waititi never loses sight of the brutality and horrific nature of what the Nazis did.
-The film poses as a reminder that children are very impressionable and soak up what they see and hear around them. Jojo like so many kids aren’t born with hate, but he starts to learn and believe the rhetoric of Hitler and the members of Hitler’s army.
-Roman Griffin Davis is a revelation as Jojo. This is his film debut and brings out so much spunk and personality in him. He has zero fears of what to bring to this character whose innocence is being stripped from him. His screen presence is huge and is without a doubt a huge star on the rise.
-Easy to draw comparisons to today’s culture. Waititi tackles a lot between Jojo’s budding friendship with Elsa, growing up too fast, innocence lost, and learning how to love instead of hate. Comes with a really satisfying conclusion.
-Won the audience award at the Toronto International Film Festival. Many past recipients have gone on to win Best Picture at the Oscars.
Is It Worth Your Trip to the Movies? It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but you won’t see another film like it this year or in years to come
RATING: 4.5 out of 5 TICKET STUBS
ROCKETMAN (Now on Blu-Ray/DVD/VideoOnDemand)
When you think of Elton John, you may think of his beautiful songs, the glitz, the glamour, and the tantrums. It’s all here in Rocketman. At a young age, Elton was a gifted piano player. He could play anything he heard on first play. He came from a broken home, as his parents were never fully supportive or loving toward him. He took inspiration from Elvis Presley and started playing piano professionally. When he started working with lyricist Bernie Taupin, his career took off. Their music together became huge hits. He had a distinct look and sound, but the pressure of fame, being gay, and a controlling manager and lover started taking its toll. Elton turned to drugs, alcohol, sex, and every device to cope.
-Starring: Taron Egerton, Richard Madden, Jamie Bell, Bryce Dallas Howard
-Like any good biopic, it’s about getting to know Elton the person and how we he went Reginald Dwight to becoming Elton John. It’s not about his career accomplishments, gold records, or awards, but giving context and explanation for his persona.
-Structured around Elton telling his story to members of an AA meeting in rehab. The movie is a traditional movie musical/jukebox musical. It’s theatrical much like Elton’s life. Elton’s hits are used as characters break into song and dance. It’s a slightly different approach, as it then doesn’t rely on repetitive concert scenes to showcase the music.
-Taron Egerton looks and sounds just like Elton John. It’s a brilliant performance. He does all his own singing and always goes full out. It’s an Oscar-caliber performance, as he never turns to caricature to get his mannerisms down.
-For the most part, it’s fun, upbeat, joyous, and has plenty of humor. At the same time, it doesn’t shy away from the drugs, tantrums, or “straight wash” his life.
-This will naturally draw comparisons to Bohemian Rhapsody, but this felt like a more honest approach to telling Elton’s story than Rhapsody did to telling Freddy Mercury’s story.
If you love Agatha Christie-style murder mysteries, you’ll want to check out the new film from Rian Johnson (Star Wars: The Last Jedi). Christopher Plummer stars as the patriarch of the Thrombey family. He’s a wealthy crime writer and has reunited his dysfunctional family at his estate for his 85th birthday. The next morning he’s found dead, and it’s up to Detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) to solve the case where every one of his family members is now a suspect.
-Starring: Chris Evans, Daniel Craig, Jamie Lee Curtis, Christopher Plummer, Toni Collette, Don Johnson, and Michael Shannon
-Premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival to rave reviews for how entertaining it is, the clever social commentary it is providing, and how Rian Johnson wisely lets you become the detective at figuring it all out.
In theaters November 27, 2019
We have seen many adaptations of Louisa May Alcott’s novel Little Women, most notably the one in 1994 with Winona Ryder as Jo March. Saoirse Ronan now tackles the role of Jo, the second in line of the March sisters behind Meg. Sisters Beth and Amy are younger. Little Women is a coming of age story for the four March sisters in the post-Civil War era. We see some of them fall in love, deal with loss, look up to Marmee, and fear their judgmental Aunt.
-Starring: Emma Watson, Saoirse Ronan, Meryl Streep, Laura Dern, Timothee Chalamet, Florence Pugh, Bob Odenkirk
-Adapted and directed by Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird) who has become a voice for telling women’s stories. She’s a lovely writer, and I put full faith in her adaption of the beloved novel.
-The trailer looks extremely promising as the actress playing the March sisters have a playful, joyous chemistry together. The period costumes and production design look lush and warm.
In theaters: December 25, 2019