The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature (2017)
SHOULD I SEE IT?
For everyone who loves The Nut Job, and held out hope for another one...well...HERE...WE...ARE!!!
The movie looks great on the big screen, the animation crisp, clean, and engaging to the eyes.
It's not The Emoji Movie!
(Insert your nut allergy jokes here.)
Really cannot recall a less likable series of animated characters we are all supposed to rally behind than these folks. (Ed Note: This writer has not watched The Emoji Movie yet.) Surly is voiced by LEGO Batman. That's probably what kids will think watching this.
Wait for RedBox and rent it for $2 if you must see this. Maybe Lionsgate will debut it on Netflix in a few months and you can throw it on when kids are over.
A megalomaniacal mayor wants to bulldoze Liberty Park and turn it into an amusement park for local residents, as it is the only place in the city that doesn't make him money. One problem is that Liberty Park is the new home to many of our friends from The Nut Job, who have all moved to the park en masse, after purple-colored squirrel Surly accidentally blew up Nibbler's Nut Shop, located in the heart of the city.
And there you have it. Greed. Arrogance. A hope to belong. All this and more arrives in the sequel you never knew you wanted in The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature, a revisiting of the surprise hit animated feature from 2014, which sees Will Arnett and Katherine Heigl return as rival squirrels where Arnett's Surly is constantly checked and balanced by the sensible Andie.
From the beginning, director Cal Brunker shows us Surly running the Nut Shop's basement production line like a PG-rated, kids-themed Animal House. Everyone is nut obsessed as conveyor belts grind up peanuts and some of what is produced lands in jars and makes it up into the store. Carelessness and idiocy lead to a boiler explosion and the subsequent homelessness.
Elements of our 45th President are found in the shady mayor (Bobby Moynihan), who lives for nothing but money. His efforts to turn Liberty Park into an amusement park finds empty-minded workers bulldozing and churning up Earth with reckless abandon. I don't quite know what that says necessarily, but all the diatribes and monologues about money, money, and making Oakton City great again, more than drives the point home.
(I don't think the Mayor actually says that, but I mean...does he really have to?)
There's a pug named Precious (Maya Rudolph) who resists, then falls for French Bulldog Frankie (Bobby Cannavale). Jackie Chan voices a mouse, proficient in martial arts, and then the mayor's daughter (Isabela Moner) is the Willy Wonka/Veruca Salt character of the film. She may not want an Oompa Loompa now, but she definitely wants everything else.
I mean...this movie is not good. The Nut Job 2 flails and flops and flatlines with much of its comedy. However, this time around, it tries a little harder I suppose. Months after PSY's "Gangnam Style" had receded from the public eye, an animated version of the Korean pop star surfaced in the first film, with a completely unnecessary use of that song for literally no reason. Brunker and screenwriters Bob Barlen and Scott Bindley throw a handful of narratives at the screen and hope something sticks.
I dunno. I guess they do. Nothing too crude lands here for families, though Frankie impresses Precious by eating a robust pile of regurgitated food...twice...and Surly is really not the nicest squirrel to rally behind and/or root for. Yet, the familiar tropes of teamwork and camaraderie push us through to the finish, where the mayor's greedy nature and the ragtag group of Liberty Park's animal kingdom square off in a winner-takes-the-park battle of wills.
The Nut Job 2 or The Nut Job 1 or whatever we are calling these things would probably make a halfway decent television series. As feature-length films, there is just nothing here to consistently make these movies stand out from the din of other half-hearted, relatively low-budget, fast-paced animated movies which bilk a family of four out of about $100 (tickets, concessions, etc.), on a Saturday afternoon trip to the multiplex.
Nutty By Nature lacks flavor, excitement, and freshness. At best, it is amusing. At worst, it just grinds you down into a stupor.
CAST & CREW
Featuring the Voices of: Will Arnett, Katherine Heigl, Maya Rudolph, Bobby Cannavale, Jackie Chan, Bobby Moynihan, Isabela Moner, Jeff Dunham, Gabriel Iglesias, Sebastian Maniscalco, Peter Stormare, Kari Wahlgren, Tom Kenny.
Director: Cal Brunker
Written by: Bob Barlen, Cal Brunker, Scott Bindley (screenplay); Cal Brunker, Peter Lepenoitis, Daniel Woo (story)
Based on characters created for the movie "The Nut Job" by Peter Lepenoitis
Release Date: August 11, 2017
Open Road Films