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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

The Nut Job

By
Kurt Jensen
Source: Catholic News Service


Surly, voiced by Will Arnett, and Precious the Pug, voiced by Maya Rudolph, are seen in the animated movie "The Nut Job."
The multilayered plot of "The Nut Job" (Open Road) might confuse smaller children. However, this animated feature's continuous action and theme of the importance of living in community make it both splendidly entertaining and morally appealing.

Not all the humor will please accompanying parents, though. Potty jokes seem to have become an unavoidable ingredient in children's movies, and "The Nut Job" is no exception.

In this case, the flatulence afflicting the hardworking groundhogs who populate the film serves as an unfortunate go-to gag. Still, director and co-writer (with Lorne Cameron) Peter Lepeniotis keeps this aspect of the proceedings reasonably restrained.

Surly the squirrel (voiced by Will Arnett) is a lone operative in a parkland community of critters who rely on Raccoon (voice of Liam Neeson) to supervise their coordinated gathering of the wintertime food supply. When one of Surly's elaborate plans to raid a nut vendor's wagon goes explosively awry and destroys the oak tree holding their food stash, Raccoon and the others ban him from the park.

Forced to fend for himself in a harsh urban landscape dominated by evil rats, Surly comes across a nut shop he regards as his holy grail. But his find raises a moral dilemma: Should he keep the contents of this treasure trove for himself or share it with the others?

Though Surly makes the right choice, all is not what it seems. The store turns out to be a front for thieves who are tunneling into the bank next door.

Raccoon, moreover, is not the benevolent leader he initially appears to be. Rather, he's an Orwellian dictator served by lackeys. "Animals are controlled by the amount of food they have," he intones. "It is our job to keep it from them."

Loyalties shift as the animals learn to work together, build a new food supply and ultimately confront the truth. Surly longs for the affection and respect of Andie (voice of Katherine Heigl) and also learns to control Precious, a pug (voice of Maya Rudolph), in order to sneak around the robbers.

With its action set in the 1950s, "The Nut Job" uses coal bins, cars with running boards and electric streetcars with overhead wires to create a nostalgic atmosphere grown-ups of a certain age will likely appreciate.

The film contains some intense action scenes and mild scatological humor. The Catholic News Service classification is A-I—general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG—parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

*****
Kurt Jensen is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.



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Stephen of Mar Saba: A "do not disturb" sign helped today's saint find holiness and peace. 
<p>Stephen of Mar Saba was the nephew of St. John Damascene, who introduced the young boy to monastic life beginning at age 10. When he reached 24, Stephen served the community in a variety of ways, including guest master. After some time he asked permission to live a hermit's life. The answer from the abbot was yes and no: Stephen could follow his preferred lifestyle during the week, but on weekends he was to offer his skills as a counselor. Stephen placed a note on the door of his cell: "Forgive me, Fathers, in the name of the Lord, but please do not disturb me except on Saturdays and Sundays." </p><p>Despite his calling to prayer and quiet, Stephen displayed uncanny skills with people and was a valued spiritual guide. </p><p>His biographer and disciple wrote about Stephen: "Whatever help, spiritual or material, he was asked to give, he gave. He received and honored all with the same kindness. He possessed nothing and lacked nothing. In total poverty he possessed all things." </p><p>Stephen died in 794.</p> American Catholic Blog Father, grant us the grace to be humble and content to place ourselves at your service. You know the role you want us to play in your kingdom. Following where you lead is the only sure way to find success and enjoy the adventure. We ask your grace to know this, in Jesus's name, Amen.


 
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