New Zealand filmmaker Taiki Waititi really likes working with kids. Yes, there’s something amusing about a kid trying to act years beyond their age—or, at least, speak like it—and there’s something revealing about a child playacting in an adult world oblivious to adult consequences.
That is one part of the charm of Jojo Rabbit, Waititi’s latest film. But it’s also part of its downfall. Will little Jojo grow-up and realize just how awful he wanted to become? How much blood might be on his friend, Archie’s hands? About the anti-Semitic thoughts he once harbored? That’s the problem with the movie: Watch Jojo Rabbit, and you’ll laugh your ass off. Think about Jojo Rabbit and that laughter quickly sours.
Problems that are blissfully free in Hunt for the Wilderpeople from 2016 — starring Julian Dennison as orphan Ricky and a magnificently grizzled Sam Neill as Uncle Hec. Wilderpeople has twice the laughs of Jojo without any of the thematic issues. It’s a delightful and droll walk in the woods, and you can stream it on Hulu and Kanopy.