The Nut Job
Something I really detest is whenever someone in Hollywood thinks that all they have to do to make some money is to simply do whatever the successful movie studios are doing. There’s nothing wrong from borrowing some elements from your favorite stories to try to make your own work. But there are people out there who know that there’s a short supply of good movies (especially family films) and that people will always want more. So rather then putting in any long work to make something different full of passion and creativity, they’ll copy as much from the better film as possible, while making a few changes to try to at least make it look different.
This is not something new. When Mickey Mouse started to whistle for the first time in Steamboat Willie, jealous movie producers tried emulating Disney and producing something like Dum-Dum the dog or Screwy Squirrel. It didn’t matter what kind of character it was. It just had to be something that could be made while the public was waiting on for their next Mickey Mouse short. I try to stay away from knock off movies, like the one I’m reviewing; as I feel like that I would be reviewing something too familiar. Though it technically didn’t steal from one movie, The Nut Job stinks of theft from every computer animated movie.
In the town of Oakton, there’s a park where a group of animals live to store as much food as possible for winter. All the squirrels, mice, and whatever else you find in Central Park work under a Raccoon named Raccoon (played by Liam Neeson). One purple squirrel Surly (played by Will Arnett) and a mute rat named Buddy work together to steel as many nuts for themselves as possible. They attempt another heist from a nut stand, but end up sending it into the oak tree where everyone was putting food, destroying it all.
Already hating him for his greedy attitude, Raccoon banishes Surly into the city (if hated, then why didn’t they banish him before?). He get’s lost, pushed, and bullied until he comes across a full nut shop that also happens to be a criminal hideout. Surly and buddy vow to rob the place blind. Meanwhile, an orange squirrel Andie (played by Katherine Heigl) and an overactive, but stupid hero squirrel named Grayson (played by Brendan Fraser) discover Surly’s con and join him to get enough food for everyone.
So what does The Nut Job rip off? Well the first thing that came to mind was Over the Hedge, which was also a CGI DreamWorks movie about a con artist animal getting other animals to help him steal, though that one was way funnier. The Nut Job also has traces of Ratatouille, Open Season, Madagascar, and just about every other movie with talking animals. This is a movie that, without a doubt, had no creativity or heart going into the story. This is something that has the look of a knock off that somehow got a theatrical release.
One question I want to raise is something that a lot of animated movies have been doing; why is it necessary to cast big name actors to play animated characters? Very few live action stars have the same talent that voiceover actors have for something like Avatar: The Last Airbender or Adventure Time. I don’t think any five year old is going to recognize Will Arnett or Liam Neeson (they wouldn’t even know who they are). I can tell the actors don’t even care as nobody gets a good joke out, their characters are either forgettable or unlikable, especially Surly. Even the animation is not impressive, as it looks like a high school computer art project, with too many generic designs and blocky characters.
I’ll give this half a burnt tree out of five. This is something that was made to pander those under five. Though I would discourage your from taking children to this insult to animation. This is an absolute skip!
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