“The Nut Job”: In Review

“The Nut Job”

Release Date: Friday January 17th, 2014

Run Time: 86 Minutes

MPAA Rating: Rated PG for mild action and rude humor

Cast: Will Arnett, Brendan Fraser, Liam Neeson

Sometimes an idea that is clever in theory is not so clever in execution. This is one of those times. “The Nut Job” follows the adventure of Sully (voiced by Will Arnett), a mischievous squirrel who has been banished from the his park.  Sully, with the help of his friend, Buddy, and with the eventual help of love interest Randie (Katherine Heigl) and arrogant dummy (Brendan Frasier) attempt the job of a lifetime as they try to steal the nuts from a local nut store.

A furry critter version of Ocean’s 11 sounds like a lot of fun, but the end result did not live up to the promising premise. There was very little wit, and not a ton of action.  What it did have was flatulence jokes, and plenty of them. There were also puns along the lines of, “you’re nuts!”. Well done, writers.

Despite its many flaws, the movie is not without its charms. Maya Rudolph, as the voice the ineffective guard dog Precious, delivers some genuine chuckles. The movie also shows the importance of working together and caring about more than just yourself.

Since Pixar came along (and with some of the more recent Disney animated pictures like Wreck it Ralph and Frozen) parents of small children have been spoiled by animated movies that are able to capture the hearts and tickle the funny bones of kids and adults alike. When “Toy Story” happened, I imagine parents must have considered it a pleasant surprise to bring their kid to a movie and understand some jokes that their kids might have missed. Now, it’s become an expectation for animated movies to have universal appeal and I’m not sure that is fair. Obviously, it is preferable (and profitable) to make a movie that appeals to everyone, but is also ok to make a kids movie that is mostly for kids. Grownups, this movie is not made for you. You may grown at the 4th “nut” pun and all the slapstick but your kid (providing he or she is between 5 and 10 years old) probably loves it, and that is what really matters.

On my scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being the worst, 5 being the best and 10 being the worst again, I give “The Nut Job” a 2.25 with an emoticon based sub ranking of: “Oh, Nuts!”