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"The Nut Job": Perhaps the Best Squirrel-Based Heist Film of the Year So Far 

Wednesday, Jan 15 2014

World cinema takes a weird turn with Peter Lepeniotis' animated The Nut Job, a Canadian-Korean co-production partially funded by state-run South Korean banks as well as their Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism. It's an odd pedigree for a story about a loner squirrel (the quintessentially American Will Arnett) organizing a heist of a nut shop to feed his metropolitan park's denizens for the winter, and the underwhelming final product feels like a patch job. While the Incredibles-lite rendition of a 1930s American city is nicely detailed, down to the humans speaking in Damon Runyan-style slang, The Nut Job's attempt to evoke that particular time and place makes the well-publicized closing cameo by Psy leading the cast in "Gangnam Style" all the more cynical, since it couldn't possibly have less to do with the movie that preceded it. Other hints of the opposing forces at work include a curious subplot about the need for the rule of law (take that, Kim Jong-Un!) nestling uncomfortably against the fart jokes. There are hints of a more satisfying version of The Nut Job in pantomime sequences where the animals don't speak, even though it would mean sacrificing the welcome vocal work of Maya Rudolph — also the MVP of last year's Turbo, which is looking better and better.

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Sherilyn Connelly

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