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'The Nut Job' is initially strange, but ultimately satisfying

Yes, as most of the professional (and a few of the amateur) reviews pointed out, the political satire in THE NUT JOB is extremely heavy handed if you go in looking for it, and the "cuddly/comfort level" one initially expects when seeing furry creatures this well animated is lower than what we have come to expect from the Disney films which are usually the only ones which approach this level of polish - but when one looks at the actual PLOT these film makers have chosen to tell, a kid-friendly riff on the kind of film noir caper films where different gangs are fighting over access to the same crime scene and ultimately (contrary to a couple earlier reviewers who clearly didn't want a Korean helmed film to succeed) arrived at exactly the "aww," and "we CAN fix any problems" moment any film like this must build toward.

No child over 10 will have any problems distinguishing between the various squirrel characters of varying hew, although an insistent naturalist might be pulling out their hair at the various species populating and co-operating in this "never-never-land" unidentified city park in a city living below a non-threatening dam which may or may not be destroyed by the end of the film (the illogic here - betraying the producers' lack of experience for all their technological finesse) is ultimately the film's greatest weakness - but will bother few of those the film is actually aimed at).

The flaws ultimately fade while the adventure and the over-all successes linger in the memory - which is one reason I'm glad I waited a day to review this film. Probably best of all for parents who actually want to INVOLVE themselves in their children's viewing, the number of sophisticated "teachable moments" in this film are remarkable. Most family groups today will probably not be screening the semi-classic animated version of Orwell's ANIMAL FARM, but its essential points are made much more approachably with possibly greater sophistication (and better animation) here - and the opportunities to see and understand facing complicated issues and even having to change sides and seek forgiveness for errors has seldom been better presented.

I suspect that this film - with initial notices focusing on the flaws (what COULD the releasing company have been thinking with the disco dancing Korean producer - who doesn't appear anywhere else in the film - joining the rest of the animated cast ALL through the final credit crawl testing the bias level of critics!?) will end its initial U.S. release rather deeply in the red, but when the DVD comes out, and in foreign release, this NUT JOB should do very nicely indeed. There's far more to like here than to "dis." If you watch TV *with* your kids rather than simply using it as a baby sitter, I think it's even highly recommended.



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