Like its fellow Weinstein distributed stable mate “Escape From Planet Earth”, “The Nut Job” reaches the UK some months after it made its Stateside debut, but it really shouldn’t have bothered making the trans-Atlantic trip.
When an attempt to rob a nut cart goes disastrously wrong and destroys the park’s food stores for the winter, rebellious squirrel Surly (Will Arnett) is exiled from the park by Racoon (Liam Neeson), the fierce leader of the park animals. Left with only his rat sidekick, Surly stumbles upon the ‘Lost City Of Nutlantis’ – in reality a speciality nut shop, closed for renovations but oddly still fully stocked – and plans the heist of a lifetime. Simultaneously, some human crooks have set up in the nut shop too in order to rob the bank next door…
Adapted from a short animated film by Peter Lepeniotis, it simply fails to scale up well. The background designs and artwork are pleasant enough but the character design is bland and uninspired while the characters themselves are just unpleasant, particularly the ‘hero’ we’re meant to be rooting for. Despite a voice cast that boasts Liam Neeson, Brendan Fraser and Katherine Heigl, it’s so dull and lifeless that it fails to grab or hold the attention. Inexplicably, a sequel is on the way for 2015.
One of the few films the Mertmas has asked to watch or do something else whilst watching (another winner of this dubious accolade was “Shrek Forever After”), it rarely manages to be anything more than a very pale imitation of a vastly superior woodland creature heist film. If you’re looking for something to while away the last few days of the school holidays, give this a miss and get hold of a copy of Dreamworks’ 2006 movie “Over The Hedge” instead.