The Nut Job

Posted by Joel Copling on February 9, 2014

So much for small favors: At least "The Nut Job," deficient and shopworn entertainment though it may be, is a whole 21 minutes shorter than Pixar's worst film "Cars 2" and two minutes and 17 minutes slighter than Blue Sky Studios' one-two punch of appalling animated product in 2012 and 2013, "Ice Age: Continental Drift" and "Epic." Its general slightness might be shrouding a strangely innuendo-filled experience that inexplicably ends with an animated likeness of Psy doing this thing to oddball cult-favorite melody "Gangnam Style," but at least it gets in, gets out, and doesn't leave a wave of stunned disbelief rippling through audience members. The lack of any real charm or worth here is something on which prospective viewers over the age of six can depend.

Surly (voice of Will Arnett) is an antagonistic douchebag behind whom we, as the audience, are supposed to rally, but apologies to screenwriters Lorne Cameron and Peter Lepeniotis (who also directs): It just simply doesn't work that way. Anywho, Surly is the positoned protagonist of the story, a selfish cad who lords over the supply of nuts provided by the trees in the park where he lives. Raccoon (voice of Liam Neeson, for some reason), the leader of the park's gathering of animals, has had it up to here with Surly's antics, and just when the other animals need it most, Surly accidentally destroys all of their food in a tree fire. Thus, he gets what's coming to him--alienation--until he can learn the error of his ways.

That is, until a startlingly irresponsible third-act "twist" (as in, would-be-surprising plot development telegraphed years in advance) pits Surly and Raccoon on opposite sides--at least, in theory. An entirely inconsequential and convoluted plot involving some bumbling humans trying to steal money before double-crossing each other (or something) exists on the sidelines, but it's dumped by the end for an oddly disjointed cat-and-mouse game between two people who happen to be defined as "good guy" and bad guy" but seem to be after the same exact thing. It's off-putting, and it is harshly at odds with the film's overall moral, itself lazily sermonized straight into the viewer's eye sockets.

Film Information

Featuring the voices of Will Arnett (Surly), Katherine Heigl (Andie), Brendan Fraser (Grayson), Liam Neeson (Raccoon), Stephen Lang (King), Maya Rudolph (Precious), Jeff Dunham (Mole), Gabriel Iglesias (Jimmy), Sarah Gadon (Lana), James Rankin (Fingers), Scott Yaphe (Lucky), Joe Pingue (Johnny), Annick Obonsawin (Jamie), and Rob Tinkler (Redline/Buddy).

Directed by Peter Lepeniotis and written by Lepeniotis and Lorne Cameron.

Rated PG (mild action, rude humor).

85 minutes.

Released on January 17, 2014.