The new CGI-animated film, ‘The Nut Job,’ is a seen-it-before, sub-par family movie that poorly attempts to bring the excitement of a heist story to the elementary-school set.
In ‘The Nut Job,’ Surly the squirrel (voiced by Will Arnett) is a self-involved, sassy resident of Liberty Park who largely seeks to meet his own desires and ignore the needs of the other park-dwelling animals led by Raccoon (voiced by Liam Neeson). While pursuing his own agenda, Surly inadvertently destroys the Liberty Park’s cache of nuts for the winter. As punishment, Raccoon banishes Surly from the park and into the surrounding late-1950s cityscape, where the squirrel happens upon a motherlode of snacks in an old nut shop. Unfortunately, Surly’s dream of endless food competes with the plans of mafia-esque bad guys who have designs to use the shop and its nutty contents to rob the bank next door.
Right out-of-the-gate and continuing throughout, the film suffers from sub-par animation and poor scripting. The audience never feels engaged with the plot, and every slow-witted turn is something that’s been seen before (and done better). Even more concerning is that Surly is, indeed, ‘surly’ and not very likable. Although the film is not inherently overtly offensive, it clearly pales in every comparison to most other recent children’s films. Even stranger is the out-of-the blue CGI animated appearance of Korean pop star, Psy, dancing to stale hit, ‘Gangnam Style,’ with the film’s animal cast near the tale’s end. It’s an odd cap to a poor creation.
The non-offensive, but largely boring ‘The Nut Job’ will only suffice if in a pinch and desperate to see some version of a family film. Otherwise, see Disney’s ‘Frozen’ and really enjoy your family time in the theater. ‘The Nut Job’ is rated 2 - of 5 stars (‘not recommended’).
‘The Nut Job’ is rated PG for ‘mild action and rude humor.’
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