Squirrels to the Nuts. 2014. USA. Directed by Peter Bogdanovich. Written by Louise Stratten and Bogdanovich. With Owen Wilson, Imogen Poots, Kathryn Hahn, Will Forte, Cybill Shepherd. HDCam. 123 min.
Heavily cut, substantially reshot, and burdened with a painfully explicit voice-over narration, Peter Bogdanovich’s final theatrical feature was released in 2014 under the title She’s Funny That Way and quickly disappeared from view. Miraculously, Bogdanovich’s full original cut, running 123 minutes and titled Squirrels to the Nuts in homage to Ernst Lubitsch’s Cluny Brown, was saved from oblivion by James Kenney, a CUNY English instructor, who discovered a high-definition video master of the Bogdanovich edit on eBay. In its full, free-floating form, Squirrels recovers Bogdanovich’s elegance, airiness, and ability to smoothly manage a large cast of characters, connected here by the divergent needs and fantasies they project on Imogen Poots' Isabella, a Brooklyn sex worker with stage ambitions. At heart the film is a McCareyesque comedy of remarriage, with stage director Owen Wilson fighting through serial infidelities to make it back to his patient wife Kathryn Hahn, who herself is being pursued by scruffy Brit film star Rhys Ifans. But the peripheral characters—including Austin Pendleton as a lovesick judge and Jennifer Aniston as the world’s most indiscreet therapist—leave some darker notes behind.