Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Nut Job

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! The title said "nut" so you know there's going to be some crotch gags.

The Nut Job – 1 out of 5

Ha ha , this movie is about a selfish little squirrel who loves nuts…human nuts. This movie is a horror film.

"Let the slaughter begin..."

I’m kidding. The Nut Job is actually about a strange purple squirrel named Surly (Will Arnett) who accidentally sets fire to a large oak tree in a park where he and a bunch of other animals live. This blaze also claimed their winter food supply so the pack unanimously votes to have him exiled. While out in the wilds of the city, he locates a nut store and devises a plan to break in and feast for the entire winter. As luck would have it, the leader of the pack—a raccoon who apparently doesn’t deserve enough respect to actually get a name and is simply called Raccoon (Liam Neeson)—sends out two of his best squirrel buddies (who ARE allowed names); the brave and beloved hero Grayson (Brendan Fraser) and fiercely independent and intelligent Andie (Katherine Heigl), and has them try to get the food they need to survive. The only problem is trying to work together with Surly…oh, and for some reason, the nut shop is owned by some criminals trying to rob a bank that is next door.

Well...I guess he's more grey than purple.

When I watched Free Birds not long ago, I thought I watched the laziest animated film of 2013 (and was infuriated when I realized the whole point of the film was to sell Chuck E. Cheese pizza) but this movie really takes the cake…a really dry and flavorless cake that has sugar-free frosting on top of it. After watching it, I have a hard time believing that this animated film—which is clearly geared towards children due to the numerous fart gags—could even make little ones laugh because the entire film, story, characters, morals and even the animation itself felt like it was quickly slapped together with little regard for even passing quality.

Never mind, he's definitely purple...and I think that dog is dying.

First off, the story doesn’t offer much and the entire premise is stretched to the breaking point in order to reach even a hour and twenty minutes (and don’t worry, they make sure to add the gratuitous pop song that the characters dance to during the credit sequence—in this film it was “Gangnam Style” by PSY. So, congratulations is in order for the film pulling out a song that was already considered old by internet standards and dusting it off like it was the latest viral hit). I guess the addition of a pointless bank robbery was their way of trying to get this film to a feature film length but it really just comes off as neon highlighting sign that screams, “Look, this whole plot point is just filler and really doesn’t need to be here.” I get that there is suppose to be a parallel between the two events but both feel so poorly put together that any resemblences between them feel accidental.  In fact, it becomes so obvious that this was just an attempt to pad the film that these two elements (the bank robbery and the nut robbery) start to feel like two different films are coexisting in a single movie and ends up making for some very strange scenes where these two worlds are occupying the same space but not acknowledging each other.

Anyone else find it strange that the human isn't acknowledging the squirrel/raccoon showdown
no more than three feet away from him.

Secondly, this film is very, very unfunny. I fully acknowledge that this is a kid’s film and not one that is intended for the whole family like Pixar and DreamWorks makes but these jokes are bad. As in, bottom of the barrel and when in doubt, throw in a fart joke bad. Seriously, if your squirrel on a mad dash for nuts story has more than two fart gags, you have too many passing wind jokes. Also, as if to let the parents know that this film will be viciously unfunny from the get go, they add in some very generic comedies that thrive on making the easy jokes to their roster. Jeff Dunham is here doing his Peanut voice (and being considerably less racist than he usually is) and Gabriel Iglesias is taking his break from “Ha ha, it’s funny because I’m fat” punch lines to bring the humor down several levels. The entire film is one long collection of jokes that fail to hit the mark and were barely able to fly to begin with.

That's the look when one experiences what passes for humor in this movie.

Aside from two mediocre comics, the rest of the voice acting cast wasn’t that special (even if some of them are actors I particularly enjoy). First you have Katherine Heigl proving she has no place in an animated film as her delivery is flat and as hopeless as her current career (being a squirrel in a cartoon and staring in some sleep-aid commercials…she is a true star now!). Additionally, as much as I love Will Arnett, he just didn’t fit his character. His hoarse voice and unique sense of sarcastic timing just didn’t fit the look of the character. Granted, the mentality of Surly worked for Arnett’s talent but there was something about the look of the furry creature that just didn’t fit Arnett’s voice. Finally, I like Brendan Fraser—he seems like a cool guy that would be nothing but fun if you hung out with him and would always offer to pick up the check when you went out to lunch with him—and it really sounds like Fraser is having an absolute blast voicing the over-the-top bravado of Grayson but his enthusiasm only works to amplify how the rest of the cast is seemingly doing their duties for nothing more than a paycheck.

Give it a year and Katherine Heigl will be acting in corporate training videos.

Finally, the animation was very uninspired for The Nut Job. While the animation and overall look of the film isn’t terrible (even though some of it looks suspiciously lifted from other, more popular films)…

Yep, they in no way "borrowed" and "adjusted" this design from Pixar.

…the problem is the animation doesn’t look like film quality 3D animation that we're used to but, rather, like a cheaply produced television show you would see on some early morning kid’s network. From the standards set by the animation giants like Pixar and DreamWorks, this film just looks like it’s on the low end. Sure the backgrounds look lush and colorful but the thing that bothered me was how the fur on the animals didn’t move or interact with other elements around them naturally. For example, one character touches another on the back and none of its fur reacted with the touch. It just looked like one solid, flat surface reacting with another flat surface that just so happen to have wallpaper that looked like fur on it. This is a minor complaint but when you’ve spend your time eating gold-encrusted lobster (seeing Sully’s fur in Monsters University) and having some wood-pulp filler bologna (the fur effects in The Nut Job) suddenly tossed on your plate, you start to notice that these things like an elephant in a small room that is shouting racist things.

Speaking of racism, that's clearly the reason the raccoon is named Raccoon while other
animals have actual names.

There was literally nothing special about The Nut Job. The animation doesn’t stand out, the jokes do everything they can to NOT make you laugh and the voice acting is just forgettable…and then you have the story that feels like it is actively trying to dare you to hit stop on your DVD player. I haven’t heard a good thing from other people who’ve watched it and the critics have done nothing but hate it…so why is it getting a sequel? I guess it made some cash but did it really earn enough to make another film that will, most likely, be just as uninspired and lethargically boring as this one?  I guess it did.


  1. Ron don't kill me for saying this, but I actually like Katherine Heigl. I had an enormous crush on her on Grey's Anatomy. I think she's hot.

    1. No worries, I won't hate on you. I also find her quite attractive!




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