Truly great satire is difficult to pull off, but it looks like we may be in for a healthy dose of it this fall, per the first teaser trailer for Jojo Rabbit, which writer and director Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok, What We Do in the Shadows) has deemed his “anti-hate satire.”
The trailer doesn’t give much away, but here’s what we can gather: Starring Sam Rockwell, Scarlett Johansson, Rebel Wilson, Alfie Allen, Stephen Merchant, Thomasin McKenzie, and Waititi himself alongside newcomer Roman Griffin Davis, Jojo Rabbit is set at what looks like a Hitler Youth camp. Davis plays Jojo, whom the others make fun of for being “a scared rabbit.”
Oh, and Hitler (played by Waititi) is there, too, giving Jojo a pep talk: “People used to say a lot of nasty things about me: ‘Oh, this guy’s a lunatic. Oh, look at that psycho, he’s gonna get us all killed.’” And then he shrugs.
Waititi, who hails from New Zealand, adapted the screenplay from the 2008 international best-seller Caging Skies, by Christine Leunens. The novel, a dark comedy, tells the story of Johannes, a young and enthusiastic member of the Hitler Youth who discovers that his parents are keeping a big secret. (I won’t spoil the plot of the book, but it’s safe to say he isn’t pleased.)
Waititi — whom the trailer deems a “visionistical director” — has built his career around off-kilter narratives that seek to upend prejudices and tell stories about underdogs and outsiders through comedy, in movies like Eagle vs. Shark (2007), Boy (2010), What We Do in the Shadows (2014), and Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016), and in episodes of the HBO series Flight of the Conchords. Even his work on more mainstream fare like 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok put a cheeky new spin on the Thor myth.
Jojo Rabbit will make its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September and is due in theaters on October 18, indicating that the film will likely make a run at competing for an Oscar too. And no matter what it has in store, it sure looks fun.