The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature

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Posted August 11, 2017 by in

Quick Stats

Genre: Animation
 
Director: Cal Brunker
 
MPAA Rating: PG
 
Actors: Will Arnett, Katherine Heigl, Maya Rudolph
 
Length: 131 minutes
 
Release Date: 8/11/2017
 
Studio: ToonBox Entertainment, Redrover Co. Ltd. Gulfstream Pictures, Shanghai Hoongman Technology Co.
 
 
What We Thought

Taken together, The Nut Job franchise is against everything and stands for nothing

by Daniel Hodgson
Full Article
Most critics didn’t like The Nut Job.  I did, and audiences came out in droves to see it.  But when it came to The Nut Job 2:  Nutty by Nature, I decided not to invite a friend of mine to the screening.  I didn’t snub her; I spared her.
     I knew the sequel was bad, even before seeing it.  Call it a gut feeling.  How often is the sequel better?  Rarely, and more often than not, anything with a 2 after the title is a cash-grab.  A rookie reviewer could tell you that.
     To its credit, the animation is better this time around, especially in the details of the textures.  But everything else about it is worse, much worse.  The sequel picks up right where the original left off, with the animals of Liberty Park feasting on the spoils of a local nut shop, burgled by Surly (voice of Will Arnett), a purple-haired squirrel.  Once the pariah of the park, Surly is now its populist leader, providing food to all.  His love interest Andie (voice of Katherine Heigl), a red-furred squirrel, objects to free handouts, believing in the value of hard work.  Without labor, people become lazy and careless.
     Andie’s fears are realized when the nut shop blows up.  The animals return to the park to forage for food, but Mayor Muldoon (Bobby Moynihan) sends in bulldozers to raze their natural habitat and build his own theme park.  “All I care about is profit,” he says, his accent referencing Foghorn Leghorn.  It’s a clear indictment against capitalism and the conflict of interests present when entrepreneurs end up in office (funny thing that Muldoon has orange hair…)
     Here’s the problem.  The Nut Job was an anti-socialist manifesto.  That’s fine, and I’m not saying that the sequel is in any way wrong in pointing out the potential evils of capitalism.  I agree, and then some.  But you have to pick a side, you have to stand for something.  Taken together, The Nut Job franchise is against everything and stands for nothing, other than half-hearted messages about environmentalism and humane treatment of animals messages, which aren’t solutions to the economic problems the film presents.
     There are more problems with the film itself, though.  The incessant dialog, for one.  Most everything is either a setup or a punch-line, and little of it is actually funny.  Another problem is that the plot wanders around without aim.  The original was a caper, but the sequel is formless.  What made the original decent despite its subpar animation was its complex yet purposeful plotting of a genre story; there was an A-plot in which Surly planned to rob a nut shop, and a B-plot in which a gang of human thieves planned to rob a bank, using the abandoned nut shop as headquarters.  The A- and B- plots converged and commented on each other.  There is no such intricacy here.  It’s neither heist film nor adventure story, it’s just stuff happening, a series of and-thens until there is an unsettling cry for violent uprising by the people (or in this case, park animals).  1.5 out of 5 stars.


About the Author

Daniel Hodgson

Daniel has a degree in film from the University of Texas at Austin, and writes about himself in the third-person, because that's the fashion.

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