The Nut Job
Will Arnett, Liam Nesson
January 17, 2014
Open Road Films
1 hour 26 minutes
There are films that come out every year that make me feel that Hollywood believes that kids are so stupid that they will be entertained with anything. Last year's examples range from "The Smurfs 2" to "Epic," both of which I surprisingly tolerated and enjoyed to an extent. In the case of "The Nut Job," aka 2014's first kids movie, there is very little redeeming about it whatsoever. This is the type of animated film that looks, acts, and feels like a generic kids flick that should have come out back in the late 90s to the early 2000s. And yet, parents are going to take their kids to see this mediocrity so they'll shut up for 90+ minutes. Just a warning to you: "The Nut Job" simply sucks.
Surly is a reckless squirrel whose mistakes have now caused the big tree in the middle of the forrest, aka the home to many who hate Surly for his mistakes, to burn down to the ground. Not only does this destroy many of the critter's homes, but it also destroyed their food supply for the winter. This leads to the animals banishing Surly to the dangerous city outside of their beloved home. However, what could have been looked at as a punishment ends up becoming a potential salvation for the animals, as Surly discovers a mass supply of nuts located in a nut shop in the city. Little do the critters know, though, the men who own the nut shop are using it as a decoy so they can rob a bank across the street.
I'll give the film credit where credit is due by saying that the voice acting wasn't that bad. While there were bad performances given, others you could tell were trying to do their best with the material they were given. Even though it's fairly obvious that Will Arnett and Liam Nesson were in this film simply for the paycheck at the end of the day, they did try to make the most out of this mediocre script, and for that they did a solid job. Brendan Fraser and Maya Rudolph went a step further and actually was having fun with his role, which is something I give props to them for. Even Katherine Heigl was fine in the movie, even though she chooses the absolute worst movies to be in. If it wasn't for how awful the script was, then maybe these performances would be touched upon more.
The true shame about the men responsible for the horrid dialogue and generic as hell story is the fact that they’re relatively talented men. Lorne Cameron, one of the screenwriters for the film, is best known for writing the screenplays for Disney’s “Brother Bear” and DreamWorks’ “Over the Hedge,” which happen to be two films I enjoy very much. Director/screenwriter Peter Lepeniotis is probably best known for working in the animation department for films such as “Toy Story 2” and the 1995 “Casper” movie, and frankly I think that’s where he should stay if he wants to be involved with making kids films. It’s one thing to make a stupid kids movie, but to make it a rehash of every clichéd 90s kids film imaginable, as well as have some of the stupidest and most uninteresting animated characters in recent memory, that’s where I get mad. Studios like Disney and DreamWorks are further proving everyday how fun and smart family films can be, while here this seems to be an easy excuse to have parents shut their kids up for 90 minutes. If you’re a smart parent, I’d highly suggest not even thinking about taking your kids to see this. And as for the filmmakers, you might want to think of something original fast before you just fade away from Hollywood once and for all.
I honestly find it sad that there are still movies like this being made while other original and ambitious ideas are left in the corner. Money is nice to look at and is very nice to have, but when your product is only made so parents can shell out $40 for their family and doesn't leave much that's redeemable, that is when money isn't being used properly. The voice actors might be trying their best with what they're given, but that doesn't make up for the generic story, awful script, and an overall waste of time in a movie theater. Not to mention, this movie feels like adding a group of villainous human mobster characters into the bag, as well as glorifying the 2012 song "Gangam Style" to the point where they have an animated version of the artist Psy dancing to that song in the end credits. If that doesn't make you think that Hollywood is stuck in the past and has run out of clever ideas, then I have no other words to say.