The Nut Job – Review by Frances Winston
Directed by: Peter Lepeniotis
Starring the voices of: Will Arnett, Brendan Fraser, Gabriel Iglesias, Liam Neeson, Katherine Heigl
In cinemas August 1st
The clue really is in the title for this film which sees a group of squirrels try to rob a nut store in order to ensure they have enough food to get through the winter. Unbeknownst to them however the shop is a front for a gangster who is planning a bank heist and who doesn’t appreciate being interrupted by the furry thieves and so goes out of his way to get rid of them. At the heart of the action is squirrel Surly (Arnett) who has been exiled from the park he lived in after his botched attempt to rob a peanut cart costs all of the animals their winter store. When he discovers the nut store though he is persuaded to work with feisty fellow squirrel Andie (Heigl) and others from the park and then split the proceeds of the job evenly. However Surly’s reluctance and apparent inability to collaborate and the increasingly irate gangsters are the least of the groups worries as not everyone in their midst wants to see them have a bountiful winter.
This is a very simplified explanation of what is actually an incredibly convoluted plot. In a summer that has seen many big animation releases this comes trotting along in as relatively low key fashion. Although a sequel is already in the works this suffers hugely from the fact that protagonist surly is not a very likeable character and no amount of colourful animation or zany voice work can change that. Next to Surly the other characters suffer from a lack of development. The animation also looks somewhat unsophisticated next to some of the other offerings we’ve had this year and everything feels as if it is being dragged out with the thin premise stretched as far as it can go and then some. There is a distinct lack of tension throughout and many of the jokes fall pretty flat. For some reason there are an abundance of fart jokes in this as well. It is obviously trying to appeal to the adults as well as the little ones but the in jokes and attempts at double entendre aren’t really successful and much of the action will go over children’s heads.
There are one or two sweet elements in this flick and Surly’s friendship with a pug named Precious (Rudolph) does have some truly funny moments to it. Ultimately though you don’t care enough about the characters to garner any sort of satisfaction from this and you can see plot points coming a mile away. At around 90 minutes this will probably engage younger children on some level but they are unlikely to see it as anything other than a one time watch while the adults will surely find this somewhat tedious.