The Review: 'The Nut Job' is a Conflicted and Baffling Hot Mess

The Review: 'The Nut Job' is a Conflicted and Baffling Hot Mess

Jan 17, 2014

Note to readers: Care about spoilers in your terrible anthropomorphic animal cartoons? Then by all means stop reading, go out and buy a really expensive 3D ticket to this film and learn all of its wonders for yourself. The rest of you can keep going.

It's about an Ayn Rand-ian squirrel named Surly (the voice of Will Arnett) who's always looking out for Number One ("I'm just a squirrel tryin' to get a nut," he says in the opening moments, because someone had to). It's also about Surly's battle with a totalitarian Socialist raccoon (Liam Neeson) and with 1950s-era bank robbers using a nut shop for cover. There's a talking pug (Maya Rudolph) and a mute rodent poached in body if not soul directly from Ratatouille, a squirrel-girl love interest (Katherine Heigl) and a bunch of other animals that don't matter. Some are more equal than others here.

Winter is coming (the autumnal colors and period background details are nice to look at, the sole reason to do any looking in this film's direction) and there aren't enough nuts to go around the pointedly named "Liberty Park." With limited resources, the animals are panicked and Raccoon uses that fear to serve his own ends while Surly schemes to take all the nut shop loot for himself, right under the noses of human beings planning their own heist. Double crosses and double-double crosses ensue, the plot becomes convoluted and too complicated for kids to understand and, while the people are all squarely placed in the 1950s, the animals are somehow possessed of the ability to time travel and, upon discovering the existence of the nut shop, immediately begin dancing to Psy's "Gangnam Style."

A partly Korean production -- hence the inclusion of that already-dated Psy song not once but twice, the second go-round involving an animated Psy dancing with all the animals over the closing credits -- it's a film as much at war with itself as the North and South halves of that country. Every ill-fitting, contradictory plot point, character movement or song cue screams producer intervention, and the resulting hot mess is conflicted and baffling, jittery and dull, not to be enjoyed by any child or any adult. But where else can you find a movie equally concerned with farts as it is with warning against the excesses of both capitalism and collectivism? Nowhere? Yep, nowhere.


Categories: Reviews
Tags: The Nut Job
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