Unfortunately there’s also a noisy, nutty story that left me feeling like an assaulted peanut.
Think that was a bad peanut pun? Wait till you see this movie. Or not.
“The Nut Job” begins on a downer note. The animals of Liberty Park don’t have enough food for the winter and the selfish actions of Surly Squirrel (voiced by Will Arnett) has pretty much guaranteed they’ll starve once the weather turns cold.
Raccoon (Liam Neeson), the park patriarch banishes Surly but soon the mischievous rodent involves the park’s citizens—wannabe hero Greyson (Brendan Fraser) and sexy squirrel Andie (Katherine Heigl)—in a dangerous scheme that will either save them or kill them—robbing a nut store owned by some Damon Runyonesque mobsters.
“The Nut Job” is an original story that feels Frankensteined together from other, better kid’s movies. Echoes of “Ice Age” style slapstick and “Ratatouille” situations and even “Animal Farm” ethos reverberate throughout. I’ll give the filmmakers credit for adding in the gangster twist and some jazzy music but it’s the characters themselves that really disappoint.
To give you an idea of the amount of thought put into the characters, let’s start with their names. Neeson’s raccoon character is inventively named Raccoon, the rat sidekick is Buddy (Robert Tinkler) and the surly squirrel is, of course, called Surly.
Different names wouldn’t have made this a better movie, but the literal names display a lack of inventiveness that permeates the entire film. The animation is fine, but the rest—the story, the voice work, the action—feels as uninspired as peanut butter without jam.
There is very little joy, almond or otherwise, in “The Nut Job.”