BY ERIN TORRANCE
This review is going to be a hard one. Being a kid’s movie, I know I shouldn’t expect any great level of thought or detail, but… Well, I can’t help but add a “but” every time I say something about The Nut Job.
I walked into the theatre (which, by the way, was occupied by just seven adults, including myself) looking forward to this film. I thought the concept was cute: One castaway Surly squirrel (voiced by Will Arnett, who will forever just be Gob in my mind) finds the mother of all nut stashes—a whole store-full—and with the help of some later-to-be friends, saves the park from going hungry this winter.
I fell in love with Surly from the beginning and his adorable rat friend, Buddy, but that was just about the extent of it. All the other characters were irritating and simple. The villain’s right-hand bird is clearly inspired by Angry Birds (I’m over it). The humour in nearly the entirety of the film, from an adult perspective, was stale—a perfect example: the “I-have-a-date-with-destiny”-“who’s-Destiny?” joke. Everything just seemed quickly thrown together but outdated.
And I guess people are still loving “Gangnam Style”? Personally, I loathe this song, the dance and Psy, so when it was first used here, I started to loathe the entire film. Thankfully, the reference was limited and I was able to shed a bit of bias—until the credits… Needless to say, I stormed away from the theatre, swearing as I made my escape from an animated Psy. (When will it be over?!)
It seemed as though the villain came out of nowhere, too. We’re supposed to believe that Surly is in the wrong in the beginning, but I couldn’t help but feel a whole lot of resentment towards all the other park animals for banning him from the park due to an accident (isn’t intent one of the biggest aspects of being criminally responsible?).
But clearly I’m thinking way too much into this. I admit I can see the appeal for children; it would be entertaining, especially if your child finds humour in farts. And since children are obviously the target audience here, if I were to drop my adult biases, I’d have to say that The Nut Job is a decent watch. Plus, I do have to give The Nut Job points for cuteness—Surly walking down the alley, butt wiggling and fluffy tail swaying in stride, and the portrayal of the pug, Precious (Maya Rudolph), at the beginning, all bitter, menacing and prancing, were definite “awww” moments.
If you strip this movie down to the bare bones—a squirrel robbing a nut store—you’ve got something. But there’s a whole lot that can go wrong when you start adding layers. Children below the age of 10 (10 may be a stretch for some) will likely find entertainment in the simple humour. If you aren’t heading out to the theatres for family time, though, I’d strongly recommend you pawn off your child onto some other unfortunately less-informed parent.
[Sidenote: If you do end up braving the cold to see this film, don’t waste your money on 3D unless it’s for the kids. Aside from some popping popcorn and a bit of splashing water, The Nut Job is just another one of those films that don’t benefit from 3D. It’s a waste of money.]