Nuts: a pejorative term indicating insanity; a slang word for testicles. In the case of “Nuts!”, it’s both.

nuts-documentary-1J.R. Brinkley was a doctor in small town Kansas who, through the grace of his revolutionary goat-testicle transplant surgery, cured many men of impotence and infertility while bringing vitality and prosperity to the town. Brinkley had to build hospitals just to deal with the growing demand, and almost accidentally became a radio pioneer simultaneously, broadcasting ads for his services and answering write-in medical questions between blasts of good ole country music. Despite exponential interest and a horde of faithful followers, the American Medical Association accused Brinkley of “quackery.” Just as they set out to discredit him, he came out with an elixir just as 3suknzs_7ZdkkSzSTUmjXyzJGnOxJrFPD4GX9-ypnY4 (1)effective as the goat-testicle procedure but with much less risk. And then he ran for governor, with a slogan borrowed from a laxative commercial. True story.

How have you never before heard of this broadcasting maven and trailblazing doctor? Whatever the answer, Nuts! director Penny Lane will make sure you never forget him. Her mixed-media documentary uses his official biography as a jumping-off point, and whatever archival footage and modern day interviews can’t cover is brilliantly animated. And I do mean brilliantly: not only is the animation a perfect match for this strange and whimsical tale, it’s also impeccably timed and used judiciously. Different animators are nuts.0.0used for each segment, but there’s a uniform style that injects a lot of kinetic energy into a story hilariously but dryly narrated. You won’t believe how quaint goat fucking can look.

Eventually the film moves from eyebrow-raising to downright subversive, with enough old-timey euphemisms for erections (or the lack thereof) to keep you in patter for your next hundred dinner parties. Lane has already shown herself to be a thoughtful and engaging filmmaker (Our Nixon) but with Nuts! she proves herself worthy of a Brinkley-esque empire. You can’t help but admire the way she weaves the story together; she examines what amounts to an American folk tale but she does it with modern tools that turn the story on its head. Penny Lane is her own brand of documentarian, and quite possibly on to becoming this generation’s best. Nuts! is not to be missed.



This post was first published over at Cinema Axis, where you can find lots more great Hot Docs coverage.


23 thoughts on ““Nuts!”

  1. Wendell


    I did read the word transplant, right?

    You’re telling me some “doctor” figured out the way to cure ED was to swap out some poor dude’s nuts with those of a goat? And became a sensation?

    Did it makes bleat during sex? Or chew on the sheets?

    OMG, I need to see this.


  2. Birgit

    OK…this does sound ..um…nuts. What is also strange is that we , in our modern times, had not heard of this. Now I wonder how the future kids fared…did they look a bit goatish?? i am picturing little Pans wandering around playing on the flute. I really would love to see this.


  3. Divorce With Me

    Lmao! I’ll definitely see this as it seems clever!

    Gotta be honest though… when I got this in my email and saw the picture first, I thought it was Colonel Sanders of KFC! How nutty of me! 😉


  4. reocochran

    This was an amazing and articulate review which left us breathless and wanting more, Jay! 🙂
    I was going to ask, did you ever see (and hopefully enjoy like I did) the movie, “Hysteria?” It has a great, true and gritty story with good acting in it. I liked it’s happy ending, too.
    I will try this one, looking forward to it coming in the new releases. Maybe, have to see a while from now on Redbox or library new releases? Thanks, Jay! 🙂


    1. Jay Post author

      Yes I have seen that one! And I see why you’d make the comparison. It makes me wonder what medical treatments of today we’ll think of as barbaric or just plain silly in another 100 years.



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