Weird and zany describe the adventures of JoJo Rabbit (Roman Griffin Davis), a young boy enthusiastically pursuing his indoctrination into Hitler Youth in Nazi Germany during the closing stages of World War II.
JoJo Rabbit is not his birth name but a nickname he acquires from leaders in the Hitler Youth.
Like many children, JoJo has an imaginary friend who accompanies him in all manner of adventures.
Unlike other children's imaginary friends, JoJo's best friend is a buffoon by the name of Adolf Hitler (Taika Waititi). Yes, the one and only, very same Adolf Hitler, Der Fuhrer.
The depiction of Hitler as a jester belies the truth of the historical character and the monstrosities enacted by his commands.
Nobody else can see or hear Adolf. Only JoJo. And yes, they are on a first name basis.
JoJo and his real-life best friend Yorki wear their Hitler Youth uniforms proudly, shout hateful slogans, and train to kill happily in order to join the mainstream German army.
They also condemn and demean Jews in stereotypical ways that meet with approval from Adolf and the henchmen from the Gestapo.
For the majority of the film you laugh at JoJo, Hitler, and Yorki's actions, adventures and conversations. Over-the-top and bordering on ludicrous describes it perfectly.
The mood and tone change slightly and slowly when JoJo, an avowed Nazi munchkin, discovers his mother, Rosie, is hiding a young Jewish girl in their house.
For a number of reasons that could have deadly ramifications for JoJo and his mother, he keeps his mother's secret.
Just when you settle into director Taika Waititi's idiosyncratic depiction of Hitler, he suddenly and irrevocably halts the zaniness with a sobering revelation.
Waititi resets our brains to consider the harsh and monstrous reality behind the light-hearted depiction of Hitler, Nazi Germany, the plight of Jewish people in wartime Germany and the ease with which people of good hearts and innocence can succumb totally and blindly to unyielding nationalism.
Then Waititi puts on his dancing shoes again and injects more wackiness. But not before our view of the film and its characters has been altered.
The dialogue throughout JoJo Rabbit is contemporary, as are the songs in the soundtrack. This is not cemented in history in order to relive the horrors of the past. It is very much a fable for modern times.
JoJo Rabbit jettisons its wacky nature to reveal a moral about blind allegiance to ideology and becomes a stinging indictment of our unquestioning adoption of values that can have disastrous consequences.
Waititi's quirky staging of JoJo Rabbit will not appeal to everyone, but should be seen by as many people as possible.