In animated 3D, 'The Nut Job' is an action-packed comedy in fictional Oakton that follows the travails of Surly (voiced by Will Arnett), a mischievous squirrel, and his rat friend Buddy, who plan a nut store heist of outrageous proportions and unwittingly find themselves embroiled in a much more complicated and hilarious adventure.
Having a young child has given me an entirely different view of kid's movies. As I write this he's in the other room soaking up the comedic stylings of 'Mater's Tall Tales.' Though, most days he's requesting a movie from the Studio Ghibli catalogue – 'My Neighbor Totoro' being his absolute favorite. Needless to say, as a two-and-a-half year-old, he has a wide ranging taste in movies. So, when I stuck in 'The Nut Job' I thought for sure he'd sit there and enjoy the colorful animation, something he's done with dozens of other children's movies. When he didn't even make it through the first 20 minutes without growing restless I was concerned. When he started asking for a new movie around the half-hour mark, it was apparent that even to a two-and-a-half year-old 'The Nut Job' stunk.
Surly the squirrel (voiced by Will Arnett) is a do-it-yourself type of rodent. He doesn't enjoy being part of the animal society set up by Raccoon (voiced by Liam Neeson), in a downtown park. Raccoon is the park's Big Jim (see: 'Under the Dome'). He rules with an iron paw. All the park's animals are gathering food for the impending winter. Storing them in a communal tree like a bunch of animal communists or something.
Surly, just trying to get his nut so to speak, likes to find his own way in life. He's got his sights set on a roasted nut cart on the outskirts of the park. It'll be the biggest heist in squirrel history. Well, he thinks it will be, but I'm not buying it. I mean, squirrels don't even have a written history, do they? Maybe these squirrels do, because they're all cutely anthropomorphized. Walking on their hind legs, using elaborate contraptions, and plans. Though, the only dog in the movie is still just a snarling, drooling, dumb dog. Of course there has to be a lady interest, and Surly has one in Andi (voiced by Katherine Heigl) who is there for little other reason than to be the lady interest.
Honestly, 'The Nut Job' plays like a sadly mediocre kid's cartoon. The low-rent, texture-less animation lends credence to the cheapness of it all. There's no reason, with the technology available today, that a widely released computer-animated film should look as ugly as 2005's 'Hoodwinked.' The animation is so lifeless. So mundane and generic that I'm sure that's what forced my usually easy-to-please child into trying to find something more entertaining to do with his time, like inspecting his diaper.
There's a whole plot about Surly getting banned from the park, a bunch of wise guy mobsters knocking over a bank, and a whole basement stacked with barrels of nuts. Though, after 15 minutes of the movie you won't care about any of that, you'll only care that at some point the poorly animated nightmare will be over.
The point is that kids usually have a high tolerance for brainless crap. Some more than others. 'The Nut Job' failed this one simple test. It couldn't keep a two-and-a-half year-old busy for 86 minutes. That's all the indictment you really need for this movie. If it couldn't keep his attention, how far do you think you, an adult (I'm assuming), will make it before you start regretting your decision? Five minutes? Less?
With so many quality animated films out there why, oh why, would you waste your time with this likes of 'The Nut Job.' Zero memorable characters. Painfully unfunny, and blatantly obvious jokes.
When everything is said and done. You've suffered through the terrible gags, the lifeless storyline, the unpleasant animation, and the dopey characters you come to the end. Finally, the end credits. Something you can enjoy, right? Something that you can sit back and say, “Yes, this piece of junk is finally over. No more torture.” Then you hear it. “Gangnam Style” starts up, a tiny animated guy with sun glasses pops up, and the world's worst song-and-dance craze since the Macarena blasts out of the speakers. It's at that point, you realize, that 'The Nut Job' isn't just a kid's movie. It's a not-so-cleverly crafted torture device sent to destroy you.
The Blu-Ray: Vital Disc Stats
This release comes with a 50GB Blu-ray, a DVD, and a UltraViolet Digital Copy. They're all packaged in a standard keepcase. A generic slipcover is included.
The flat, uninviting animation of 'The Nut Job' is one thing. That's just how the movie looks. It doesn't necessarily count against its video score. As with most computer animated movies on Blu-ray, 'The Nut Job' is fairly clean. It doesn't feature a lot in the way of artifacting, except for a few spots here and there. The animation is ugly overall, but its presentation is commendable.
There's a lack of definition inherent in this animation. Textures appear a little too smooth. Hair is matted and unnatural. Certainly something that over the years, has become perfected in the world of computer animation. 'The Nut Job,' as far as its animation is concerned, feels like a rush job. At least the colors are strong and vivid.
I did notice some occasional banding. Crushing was a tad bothersome in some darker scenes. Though most of the presentation goes off without a hitch. It's bright and colorful, but at the same time it's hard to watch. The animation is just so off-putting. It looks like it was animated a decade ago.
I didn't notice much, if anything, wrong with the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix. It's playful, and inviting. There's a lot going on in this movie so at least the audio can bolster the lackluster animation. With all the frantic animal action there's a lot to take in.
Up front the dialogue is clear, coming through with nice resonance and fidelity. The rear channels are home to a variety of park and city sounds. Whenever the action heats up, the rear channels get quite a bit of it. Especially, when the nut cart lights on fire and starts shooting around the park before bursting into flames under the great tree. This is also where the LFE comes in handy, giving us some nice thundering booms when stuff explodes.
'The Nut Job' is a crudely animated, unfunny movie that tries to skate by because it's a kid's movie. There are so many other great, worthwhile animated movies out there. Why would you subject your poor children to this? My son wasn't having it. After 20 minutes of torture, he was out. Unfortunately for me, I had to watch the entire thing. The video is decent, even though the animation is worlds behind anything else coming out nowadays. The audio is solid. Still, the movie is so terrible I couldn't recommend this to anyone. If your kids are dying to see it, rent it, watch it, and take it back as soon as possible.