(Photo by Fox Searchlight / courtesy Everett Collection)

20 Movies To Watch If You Loved Jojo Rabbit

When director Taika Waititi isn’t busy making Thor the funniest character in the MCU, he takes the time to stay true to his quirky indie roots, releasing movies like Jojo Rabbit. It’s about a young Nazi boy with an imaginary Hitler friend, whose mother is hiding a Jewish teenaged girl in their home. It’s also up for Best Picture in this year’s Oscars race.

It’s a high-wire act mining jokes out of World War II, and when the film came out there were immediate and mostly favorable comparisons to Jojo‘s forebears like Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator, To Be or Not to Be, Life Is Beautiful, and the original The Producers. And speaking of Mel Brooks, he lends his wisdom for documentary The Last Laugh, which explores the boundaries of humor in the face of human horror and catastrophe. Meanwhile, Train of Life is just as funny as any of the movies mentioned so far, and remains criminally underseen.

Using a child’s perspective to explore the origins and horrors of World War II is an evocative yet risky technique. If successful, it creates empathy in the viewer. When it fails, critics and audiences will deem it exploitative. Come and See is arguably the most memorable of this type of film, but be warned it is not a comedy and will mess you up. It’s also a masterpiece. Forbidden Games and Au Revoir Les Enfants are gentler classics, and just about as affecting and powerful. If you’re not a blubbering mess by the end of those and want even more World War II movies from kids’ point of views, try The Tin Drum, The Diary of Anne Frank, or The Boy In the Striped Pajamas.

Beyond World War II, there have been a lot of great films as seen through the eyes of youth that unearth truths for people across all ages. Peter Brook’s adaptation of The Lord of the Flies explores how authoritarian tendencies develop organically when left unchecked. Pan’s Labyrinth uses fantasy to help a young girl engage with and escape the darkness of reality. Beasts of the Southern Wild, Where the Wild Things Are, and The Florida Project all use the power of imagination to create better worlds for their young heroes.

And if you’re just looking for a rousing adventure of young lovers on the run (and also in scouting uniforms), see Moonrise Kingdom by Wes Anderson. Waititi shares the same comedic sensibility and timing as Anderson, as seen in Jojo Rabbit and his earlier efforts, Boy and Hunt for the Wilderpeople.

Adjusted Score: 69.108%
Critics Consensus: A touching and haunting family film that deals with the Holocaust in an arresting and unusual manner, and packs a brutal final punch of a twist.
Synopsis: Vera Farmiga, David Thewlis, and Asa Butterfield star in Little Voice writer/director Mark Herman's adaptation of John Boyne's novel concerning... [More]
Directed By: Mark Herman


Train of Life (1999)

Adjusted Score: 64.125%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Radu Mihaileanu directed this French-Belgian-Romanian-Dutch comedy-drama, set in Central Europe during the summer of 1941. Yiddish-speaking Jews purchase a train,... [More]
Directed By: Radu Mihaileanu

Adjusted Score: 81.96%
Critics Consensus: Some may find its dark tone and slender narrative off-putting, but Spike Jonze's heartfelt adaptation of the classic children's book is as beautiful as it is uncompromising.
Synopsis: Visionary director Spike Jonze brings Maurice Sendak's beloved children's book to the big screen with the help of hipster icon... [More]
Directed By: Spike Jonze

Adjusted Score: 80.55%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Teenaged Anne Frank, a Dutch Jew, perished along with most of the rest of her family in a Nazi concentration... [More]
Directed By: George Stevens

Adjusted Score: 85.228%
Critics Consensus: Benigni's earnest charm, when not overstepping its bounds into the unnecessarily treacly, offers the possibility of hope in the face of unflinching horror.
Synopsis: In this WW II tragicomedy, famed Italian funnyman Roberto Benigni (The Monster) portrays Guido, who moves during the '30s from... [More]
Directed By: Roberto Benigni

Adjusted Score: 84.502%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In Volker Schlöndorff's award-winning adaptation of Nobel Prize winner Günter Grass' allegorical novel, David Bennent plays Oskar, the young son... [More]
Directed By: Volker Schlöndorff

Adjusted Score: 93.608%
Critics Consensus: Beasts of the Southern Wild is a fantastical, emotionally powerful journey and a strong case of filmmaking that values imagination over money.
Synopsis: In a forgotten but defiant bayou community cut off from the rest of the world by a sprawling levee, a... [More]
Directed By: Benh Zeitlin


Boy (2012)

Adjusted Score: 88.967%
Critics Consensus: Boy possesses the offbeat charm associated with New Zealand film but is also fully capable of drawing the viewer in emotionally.
Synopsis: The year is 1984, and on the rural East Coast of New Zealand "Thriller" is changing kids' lives. Inspired by... [More]
Directed By: Taika Waititi


The Producers (1968)

Adjusted Score: 97.63%
Critics Consensus: A hilarious satire of the business side of Hollywood, The Producers is one of Mel Brooks' finest, as well as funniest films, featuring standout performances by Gene Wilder and Zero Mostel.
Synopsis: Theatrical producer Max Bialystock has fallen on hard times. In an attempt to acquire some money, Max and his accountant... [More]
Directed By: Mel Brooks

Adjusted Score: 92.914%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Peter Brooks' big-screen adaptation of William Golding's classic Lord of the Flies adheres closely to the source material. After a... [More]
Directed By: Peter Brook


Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

Adjusted Score: 102.99%
Critics Consensus: Warm, whimsical, and poignant, the immaculately framed and beautifully acted Moonrise Kingdom presents writer/director Wes Anderson at his idiosyncratic best.
Synopsis: Set on an island off the coast of New England in the summer of 1965, Moonrise Kingdom tells the story... [More]
Directed By: Wes Anderson

Adjusted Score: 98.822%
Critics Consensus: Charlie Chaplin demonstrates that his comedic voice is undiminished by dialogue in this rousing satire of tyranny, which may be more distinguished by its uplifting humanism than its gags.
Synopsis: "This is the story of the period between two world wars--an interim during which insanity cut loose, liberty took a... [More]
Directed By: Charles Chaplin


Pan's Labyrinth (2006)

Adjusted Score: 103.341%
Critics Consensus: Pan's Labyrinth is Alice in Wonderland for grown-ups, with the horrors of both reality and fantasy blended together into an extraordinary, spellbinding fable.
Synopsis: Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro returns to the phantasmagorical cinema that defined such early fare as Cronos and The Devil's... [More]
Directed By: Guillermo del Toro

Adjusted Score: 99.055%
Critics Consensus: As effectively anti-war as movies can be, Come and See is a harrowing odyssey through the worst that humanity is capable of, directed with bravura intensity by Elem Klimov.
Synopsis: As seen through the eyes of teen-aged protagonist Alexei Kravchenko, the landscape of Byelorussia is devastated by the incursion of... [More]
Directed By: Elem Klimov

Adjusted Score: 109.301%
Critics Consensus: The Florida Project offers a colorfully empathetic look at an underrepresented part of the population that proves absorbing even as it raises sobering questions about modern America.
Synopsis: The Florida Project tells the story of a precocious six year-old and her ragtag group of friends whose summer break... [More]
Directed By: Sean Baker (II)

Adjusted Score: 104.676%
Critics Consensus: The charmingly offbeat Hunt for the Wilderpeople unites a solid cast, a talented filmmaker, and a poignant, funny, deeply affecting message.
Synopsis: Raised on hip-hop and foster care, defiant city kid Ricky gets a fresh start in the New Zealand countryside. He... [More]
Directed By: Taika Waititi

Adjusted Score: 99.184%
Critics Consensus: Louis Malle's autobiographical tale of a childhood spent in a WWII boarding school is a beautifully realized portrait of friendship and youth.
Synopsis: During the Nazi occupation of France, a young Catholic boarding-school student witnesses the courage of his teachers as they defy... [More]
Directed By: Louis Malle, Renato Berta

Adjusted Score: 102.622%
Critics Consensus: A complex and timely satire with as much darkness as slapstick, Ernst Lubitsch's To Be or Not To Be delicately balances humor and ethics.
Synopsis: Ernst Lubitsch's To Be or Not to Be is a black comedy about a Polish theater company--led by Joseph and... [More]
Directed By: Ernst Lubitsch


The Last Laugh (2017)

Adjusted Score: 99.102%
Critics Consensus: The Last Laugh takes a fresh -- and unexpectedly funny -- approach to sensitive subject matter, uncovering affecting insights about the nature of comedy along the way.
Synopsis: Using the scope of the Holocaust, filmmaker Ferne Pearlstein examines what subjects are "off-limits" in comedy.... [More]
Directed By: Ferne Pearlstein

Adjusted Score: 102.056%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: One of the first films to see the horrors of war through the eyes of children, Forbidden Games was a... [More]
Directed By: René Clément

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