“The Nut Job 2” Is All Too Familiar to be Fun

By: Nikolai Robinson

If you made it through the first “Nut Job,” there’s enough visual gags and charismatic vocal performances to help get you through this one. However, if you don’t have kids, it’s likely “The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature,” is not for you.

This unexpected sequel to 2014’s “The Nut Job” starts where the first left off, with Surly (Will Arnett) and his friends living a happy and gluttonous life underneath the local nut shop. However, things go awry when their building accidentally explodes and the gang is forced to move back into their citypark, which coincidentally is being taken over by an evil mayor(Saturday Night Live’s Bobby Moynihan), who wants to destroy the park to build a shoddy amusement park to quell his greed for money.

That’s essentially it. It’s not the worst story; it has a few subplots that consist of a dog romance, an army of mice that practicesmartial arts, and a little snippet of Surly’s backstory, but the problem is that we’ve seen it all before. A gang of woodland creatures fight urban development led by a charismatic but arrogant rodent (DreamWorks’ “Over the Hedge”); their homeland is under the threat of an evil businessman whose only objective is money (Disney’s “The Muppets”); anthropomorphic animals practice martial arts (Dreamworks’ “Kung Fu Panda”); the list goes on.

The unfortunate reality is that summer 2017 has been loaded with great films for adults, with plenty of solid superhero flicks, and works like Edgar Wright’s “Baby Driver” and Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk” that are destined to become classics. But it’s still a wonder why the kids’ movies this summer have yet to reach the standards set by those of a more mature audience. Sure, one could argue that it takes less to entertain a kid than it does an adult, but when Pixar Studios and Disney Animation dominate the modern cartoon industry, we’ve come to expect more from this type of entertainment.

“Despicable Me 3” achieved box-office success despite lukewarm opinions, and Pixar’s “Cars 3” was a considerable improvement over its infamous predecessor, but this film, though good-hearted, barely gets the job done, with a script riddled with awkward, quasi-jokes that fell flat even with the kids in the audience. Its core message of teamwork… I think… gets buried underneath all the one-dimensional characters and the forced sentimentality.

On the flip side, the ridiculousness of the action scenes and visual gags are enough to please the kiddos, and it may even make you crack a smile. There’s the good ‘ole slapstick violence of the classic “Tom and Jerry” cartoons, plus a few jokes for the older crowd (the evil, rich mayor’s not-so-subtle license plate reads “MBEZLE”), so “The Nut Job 2” is not offensively bad,by a long shot. The voice cast really sells it, even when the jokes may fall flat, and the animation itself is respectable. Here’s to hoping it gets better from here.

Final note: stay a minute or two during the credits to watch behind-the-scenes action of Jackie Chan being adorable.

The Nut Job 2 = 2/5 Nuts

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