JOJO Rabbit is about a young impressionable boy in Nazi Germany whose imaginary friend happens to be Adolf Hitler – a man he has never met.

A lot has been made of the film’s power to offend but with the Nazi leader portrayed by director Taika Waititi as a whiny idiot with a fragile ego, some viewers seem to be missing the point.

The comedy drama introduces Roman Griffin Davis as the instantly likeable Jojo Betzler in the dying days of the Second World War.

He has fallen under the spell of Nazi propaganda despite being bullied at his youth training camp – where we discover the meaning behind his nickname, Jojo Rabbit.

But the youngster must confront his blind nationalism when he discovers his single mum Rosie (Scarlett Johansson) holds a secret that explains her peculiar behaviour.

Hiding behind a wall in his home is Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie), a strong-willed young Jewish girl who summons up many conflicting emotions for Jojo.

Finding humour in one of the darkest periods in modern history seems a tough job but there is a lot of fun to be had with the changing dynamics of the relationship between Jojo and Elsa despite all the threats around them.

Some of the most ridiculous aspects of Nazi doctrine are played up too with some great and, at times, surreal performances from Sam Rockwell, Rebel Wilson, Alfie Allen and Stephen Merchant.

As well as Elsa, Jojo’s mum Rosie is the antidote to the madness and there are some understated but really touching mother and son scenes.

If you have seen New Zealand filmmaker Taika Waititi’s previous work such as What We Do in the Shadows and Hunt for the Wilderpeople you will have a good idea of the vivid, oddball style.

Waititi portrays the imaginary version of Hitler himself, who appears intermittently as an idiot with a chip on his shoulder, as Jojo continues to question his thoughts and actions and world view. He clearly had great fun satirising the evil leader but the film is not all played for just laughs because at its heart it is about the unlikely bond between Jojo and Elsa.

There is real warmth and humanity to some of the scenes which show the futility of hate and conflict and the overwhelming power of love and compassion.

RATING: 7.5/10