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Film review: 'Okja'

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Part Spielbergian adventure, part environmentalist fable, and part barbed anti-corporate satire, "Okja" -- the latest from South Korean director Bong Joon-Ho ("Snowpiercer") -- is the story of a young girl named Mija (a wonderful An Seo Hyun) and her best friend, a massive, genetically engineered pig named Okja.

Okja is the result of the Mirando Corporation's attempt to solve world hunger by developing a cheap, easily sustainable, meat-based superfood -- for a tidy profit, of course. When Okja gets called back to America to fulfill her intended purpose, Mija must evade CEO Lucy Mirando (Tilda Swinton), who's eager to make Okja the main attraction at the company's gala presentation, and works with a militant animal rights activist group run by Paul Dano to bring her beloved pig home safely. Jake Gyllenhaal is also on hand, swinging for the fences with his performance as a zoologist television personality who's the bitter current face of the Mirando company's PR campaign.

Joon-Ho delights in juggling wild tonal shifts, and "Okja" is no different, veering from slapstick to vicious black comedy to drama, often within the same scene. While the film plays as a riff on "E.T." for a time, violence and language make it not nearly as kid-friendly as it first appears, and the slaughterhouse-set climax has significantly more in common with "Schindler's List." Somehow it all works: it's not subtle, and it's often messy, but always wildly entertaining as it seeks to leave its audience with some tough to swallow food for thought.

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