Thursday, July 24, 2014

Movie Review: The Nut Job

The Nut Job
Directed by: Peter Lepeniotis.
Written by: Lorne Cameron & Peter Lepeniotis & Robert Reece & Daniel Woo.
Starring: Will Arnett (Surly), Brendan Fraser (Grayson), Liam Neeson (Raccoon), Katherine Heigl (Andie), Stephen Lang (King), Maya Rudolph (Precious), Jeff Dunham (Mole), Gabriel Iglesias (Jimmy), Sarah Gadon (Lana), James Rankin (Fingers), Scott Yaphe (Lucky), Joe Pingue (Johnny), Annick Obonsawin (Jamie).

The Nut Job makes the same mistake that a lot of animated movies do. It assumes that all you need to make a good animated film for kids is a bunch of cute, talking animals and a lot of colorful action sequences. The jokes are tired and lame, but the filmmakers try and make the film move at such a rapid pace that no one will notice. It doesn’t work. Even my almost three year old daughter – who will normally sit through anything animated, no matter how lame, got bored of this movie in a hurry. As she went off to play, I decided to stick it out to the end. I should have followed her lead.

The film is about Surly (Will Arnett) – a smart aleck squirrel, who unlike all the animals who live in the park looks out only for himself and not the group. After pushing the other animals a little too far, he gets himself banished, and has to fend for himself in the big city. That’s when he discovers a new nut shop, and is determined to rob it of all their nuts. One of the park animals – Andie (Katherine Heigl) discovers his plant, and forces him into a partnership – they will share whatever they steal. But the leader of the forest creatures – Raccoon (Liam Neeson) has other, more nefarious plans. Oh – the nut store owners don’t really want a nut store. They simply rented the space so they can tunnel into the bank next door. They’re pulling off a complicated heist on a group pulling off a complicated heist. I guess that’s what passes for originality in movies these days.

The animation looks rather cheap for a major motion picture. The characters are cute, but not very memorable. The action sequences are fast moving but never build any real suspense or energy. The jokes are tired – and not even a talented vocal cast can add any humor or energy to them either.

The film just kind sits there on the screen without ever really inspiring any sort of passion – even positive or negative. It’s hard to truly hate a film that is this mediocre and unambitious. At only 885 minutes, it’s at least over rather quickly – so quickly in fact you barely notice that the plot really is rather lame, and not very well thought out, and pretty much jettisoned in the last half hour in favor of one chase scene after another. It’s not an awful movie by any means – it’s just a dull and completely forgettable movie. I’m already starting to forget what happened in the movie – give it a few weeks, and I won’t remember anything more – or really are that I forgot. It’s the type of movie made by a studio as a quick way to make money in the doldrums of January. All movies are like that to a certain extent – most just aren’t quite so obvious  about it.

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