Flashback to January 2014, I had just seen one of the worst animated movies of my life, The Nut Job. I couldn’t comprehend what I had just witnessed and struggled to come to terms with the theater experience. Now fast forward to August 2017 with the release of The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature. The hours leading up to the viewing of this animated sequel were filled with dread. Hours of hesitation, denial, and pure hatred. As I sat down in the dimly lit theater, I thought to myself, “You will be okay, it is only 1 hour and 36 minutes.” As I left the theater, I did feel okay, much better than I did in 2014.
The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature follows the events of the first film. Surly, voiced by Will Arnett, a dour squirrel and his friends must stop their local town’s mayor from destroying their home to create a dysfunctional amusement park known as Liberty Land. Also lending their voices to the animated cast are Jackie Chan, Katherine Heigl, Maya Rudolph, and Bobby Moynihan. You don’t need to see the first Nut Job film to follow the plot and characters of the sequel.
It is certainly delightful to hear Jackie Chan as he voices a small but ferocious city mouse who hates being called cute. With his martial-arts trained army of mice, they team up with Surly and the gang in a face-off with the villainous Mayor towards the end of the film. There are plenty of other adorable woodland creatures running around in the film and for some reason a dog named Precious who might as well identify as a squirrel. Apart from Surly, no other creature, no matter how adorable, gets any development or screen time. Hiding in the background rarely allows for them to distinguish themselves as important characters to the story. Surly really hogs the screen time with his harebrained schemes and crazy plots to save the park. His relationship with his love interest, Andie, is just to provide generic kid friendly morals to the audience about hard work and how it can be rewarding. That message doesn’t appear just once in the film, it’s constantly making its rounds throughout the storyline.
While the woodland creatures do look adorable, the film lacks enough energy to make it a fun film for adults to see. The Nut Job 2 is not very clever and borrows elements from plenty of other films which ultimately leads to the film feeling unoriginal. The use of the greedy Mayor and his business plans to destroy the park for his own gains has been done before and feels tiresome at this point. The film relies on slapstick humor and jokes that never have depth to them for adults to appreciate. With a steady stream of cheesy animal puns and over the top situations, The Nut Job 2 is stuck in an endless swirl of boredom.
However, there is a bright side to The Nut Job 2. It is a short film that runs in about 90 minutes so I didn’t have to suffer too long, and honestly the kids seemed to really enjoy it. There was a fair amount of immature humor that will really appeal to the younger audiences and could make this a favorite for some kids. This movie was definitely made for kids and really isn’t focused on drawing in a larger audience. The Nut Job 2 doesn’t have any hidden agendas or product placement plots, it’s strictly a kids film that is meant to make them laugh. After recently sitting through The Emoji Movie, a not so cleverly designed plot to get little kids addicted to smartphones, it was nice to see some quality wholesome material marketed towards kids.
The Nut Job 2 didn’t really appeal to me as an adult viewer when I watched the trailers. After having an unpleasant viewing experience with the original movie, I was pleasantly surprised by how quick and painless the sequel film turned out to be. If you have a small child you would like to bring to the theater, The Nut Job 2 is likely to be quite the hit with them as it provides plenty of high energy squirrelly action and cheesy jokes to keep them entertained during its relatively short run time. The Nut Job 2 may never be a hit with parents, but you may be pleasantly surprised by how easy of a watch it really is.
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The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature runs 1 hour 31 minutes, and is rated PG for action and some rude humor.