UK Release Date: 1st August 2014
Runtime: 86 minutes
Director: Peter Lepeniotis
Writer: Peter Lepeniotis, Lorne Cameron
Starring: Will Arnett, Katherine Heigl, Liam Neeson, Brendan Fraser, Maya Rudolph
Synopsis: An outcast squirrel is exiled from his pack when he accidentally destroys the supply of nuts they had collected for the winter months.
With many of the heavy hitters in animation absent this summer, the kiddie fare has been rather lacklustre. In fact, The Lego Movie is the only real success story in the genre this year. Unfortunately for fledgling studio ToonBox Entertainment, The Nut Job is not the film to turn this blockbuster season around for animation.
Surly (Will Arnett) is an independent squirrel who does not see eye to eye with pack leader Raccoon (Liam Neeson). After an accident sees Surly inadvertently destroy the winter food supply, he is banished. Discovering a nut shop being used as a front by gangsters, Surly teams up with red squirrel Andie (Katherine Heigl) to feed his friends and the rest of the pack.
The Nut Job is evidently a tier below the animated movies being produced by some of the major studios in Hollywood. The animation itself looks half-baked and lazy, which is a stark contrast to Pixar’s famous attention to detail or DreamWorks’ fastidious ageing up of its characters for How to Train Your Dragon 2.
| "We found it – the lost city of Nutlantis!"
The problem isn’t helped by the fact that The Nut Job doesn’t even attempt to cover any new ground. The gangster/heist genre has been mined for parody pretty extensively over the years, so there’s very little The Nut Job can do to get new laughs out of it.
Will Arnett, fresh from his role as Batman in The Lego Movie, gets very little material to work with in the lead role here. Katherine Heigl and Liam Neeson are sidelined, but are also given some weirdly stilted dialogue that doesn’t really work. There are few laughs to be had and the voice cast do very little to imbue their characters with any wit or capacity for comedy.
But the biggest crime of The Nut Job is undoubtedly the fact that it is just horrifically boring. Even the action set pieces fail to come alive due to weak characterisation, poor animation and a complete lack of creative flair. There’s only so many times it’s possible to laugh at essentially the same nut-related pun.
| "We are NOT a pack of wild animals."
The Nut Job is one of the worst children’s films of the year thus far and is an utterly depressing attempt at cashing in on parents desperate to get their kids out of the house over the holidays.
It is, bizarrely, a film about nuts that doesn’t have any.
Pop or Poop?
In amongst a series of pretty poor kiddie movies, The Nut Job stands out as being an especially bad film.
It just seems that none of the people involved could be bothered to approach the project with their creative brains engaged.
Kids are intelligent and deserve far better than this.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.