Taika Waititi Thrilled Mel Brooks Likes Jojo Rabbit

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January 15, 2020 | 3:55am EST

Taika Waititi knew he’d struck gold with his quirky comedy Jojo Rabbit when his hero Mel Brooks hailed the movie a hit.
The film’s writer, director and star knew he was stirring up a controversial plot when he introduced Adolf Hitler as a child’s imaginary friend – much in the way Brooks did with his Springtime For Hitler musical number in The Producers.
So when Mel congratulated Taika on his film, he couldn’t care less what the critics thought.
“Mel Brooks has been very positive about the film and that was very nice to hear,” he said during a recent SAG-AFTRA Conversations event. “We were at this AFI (American Film Institute) lunch and he called out the film and praised it in front of all these other people taking part in awards season.
“There is that validation from a hero and somebody who went before you and opened those doors. Especially from one of the comedy greats, because another thing that can put people off is this idea of mixing humour with World War II. For me, comedy is one of the tools in combating bullies and dictators and intolerance.”
And Waititi can’t understand parents who don’t think their children should be seeing Jojo Rabbit: “I always thought the first 10 minutes would be challenging for a lot of people,” he added. “They need permission to laugh at this type of subject matter. There are a lot of swastikas! It’s something I never thought I’d put in a movie of mine.
“But I think in America, divisive is seen as a bad thing. For audiences in America, I think everything needs to be explained all the time. I think I watched Gallipoli when I was eight. It was harrowing but I’d like to think that back then children were exposed to more challenging content.
“If it’s too safe or too easy then they’re not forced to think as much as I think they should. I think children should be seeing films like this.”