"The Nut Job" is a mildly entertaining animated family film that will appeal primarily to younger children. I suppose that grown ups might get a slight chuckle now and then, but there's nothing special going on here, unless you're a huge fan of flatulence humor.
Even then, there's very little reason to go nuts over "The Nut Job."
This is the story of a Surly, the squirrel (Will Arnett) who is banished from his park after he accidentally destroys the park animal's winter stockpile of nuts. Things look bleak for Surly and his friend, the rat named Buddy. They roam the city's mean streets until they happen on a nut store.
Could this be the answer to all of their troubles?
Surly makes elaborate plans to rob the nut store. The problem is that the store is actually a front for a group of criminals who are planning to rob the bank next door. We're left with the chaos of two competing crime capers-- the bank heist and the nut heist.
The two robberies provide some interesting story synergy, but this is a film that lives and dies with its characters. Unfortunately, the animals are a decidedly bland lot and the humans are simply stereotypical gangsters. With very few exceptions (Maya Rudolph plays an amusing pug), it's difficult to muster much enthusiasm for "The Nut Job" because the characters aren't interesting enough to keep an audience engaged in their adventures.
The humor is also rather mediocre. The puns and base slapstick humor will keep small children amused, but given the grown up crime story being played out, it's a shame that the writers didn't aim for something smarter.
The animation is pretty good, giving the animals plenty of funny visual moments. I'm not sure if your kids will come out of the movie wanting a stuffed squirrel doll, but I appreciate the computer-generated artistry that brings the park animals to life, although I'd recommend skipping the 3D version this time around.
The truth of the matter is that I don't actively dislike "The Nut Job." It simply doesn't stay with me long enough to evoke any good or bad emotions. This is an average animated family film that is destined to be forgotten quickly after leaving the theater. Living in the age of Pixar and Dreamworks Animation, this film suffers in comparison.
Still, if you're just looking for an excuse to go to the movies with your family, you could certainly do worse than "The Nut Job." Just don't go nuts, expecting an amazing family film.
Reviews by Sean McBride, "The Movie Guy," are published weekly in the Idaho Press-Tribune. He can also be seen locally on KBOI-TV. Sean welcomes your comments via email at firstname.lastname@example.org