The blockbuster and the intellectual

This week I had two different cinema experiences. I watched the second instalment of the Jumanji franchise in a local cinema, one of many daily showings. Jojo Rabbit had none, forcing me to travel to a smaller venue. Mainstream films, like television, now focus on satisfying existing demand, rather than taking risks with bold new scripts and ideas. This is an understandable commercial decision based on the assumption that audiences want more of the same.

Watching JoJo Rabbit with ample leg room and a beer, I can recommend the Elizabeth Picture Theatre in Brisbane, I found a better script than Jumanji with fewer unnecessary scenes. Jumanji was mindless escapism for the masses. Joko Rabbit provided intellectual stimulation and was often disturbing. There are similarities between the two movies. Both have themes of friendship and love. Both overdose on comedy at the expense of drama.

Some reviewers of Jojo Rabbit have complained about its comic depictions of the Nazis and of Hitler as an imaginary friend. I laughed at the television series Allo Allo, knowing that it was not intended to be taken seriously. Jojo Rabbit is a serious story, with executions and children handling weapons. It uses comic stereotypes to highlight and mock ideas about gender and race which were not unique to that time and place. The technique didn’t work for me, but it made me think. Unlike Jumanji.

Paul Williams is a writer of fiction and non-fiction, best known for his study of theJack the Ripper suspects.


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