Friday, 11 August 2017

Review: The Nut Job 2

The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature
Cert: U / 91 mins / Dir. Cal Brunker / Trailer

Imagine being Will Arnett, though. The voice of Lego Batman and the face that launched a thousand reaction-GIFs. Imagine being Will Arnett, sitting out on your veranda smugly enjoying a mid-morning espresso when your agent calls and reminds you that you're contractually obliged to provide voice-work for The Nut Job follow-up. Oh, mate...

So most of the players from last time return in another well-meaning tale set in a quasi-New York park, as Surly the squirrel has to lead the resistance against a cash-generating theme park whose construction will destroy the natural home of his friends. Oh, and the nut-shop from the first film*1 has blown up, for plot reasons. There will be chases, there will be laughs (…), there will be explosions and at one point, a nature-loving squirrel will get stung by a load of bees without acknowledging that they're all off dying somewhere now. It's all slightly below-average, sadly.

On the plus side, the character-models, texturing and general animation have all improved this time round, although the preceding trailer for Olaf's Frozen Adventure shows how far behind the curve this series is*2. But at a writing level, I'm afraid we're on-par with Norm Of The North; evil property developer vs all things green and pleasant*3, with a side order of wholesome co-operation, work-ethics and responsibility. All perfectly acceptable sentiments of course, but there are more delicate and effective ways to showcase them than this.

Arnett sounds so bored here, and the animation does little to convince otherwise. But as lead voice actor, he gets to dish out faux-attitude, mechanical slapstick and second rate gags, whilst Katherine Heigl is left in charge of The Film's Message. Perhaps notable for a voice-performance by Jackie Chan (we get a recording studio clip over the credits to prove this), he could be the only performer not quite going through the motions*4. And his Kung Fu mouse is basically a rip-off of Secret Life Of Pets' Snowball the rabbit, anyway. This is like the straight-to-video sequel to the hit movie which never got made.

If you're pushed for a time-filler during the Summer holidays, the small ones should be disposably entertained with The Nut Job 2. But you may want to find something else to concentrate on. It's far from hateful, but rather tedious given the other films which are available at the moment.

The most telling moment could be where Heigl's red squirrel Andie retorts to Arnett's grey one, Surly: "You know, you're not as funny as you think you are..."

Very meta, guys. But when are we going to get a character who'll stop and critique the story-structure?

So, watch this if you enjoyed?
The Nut Job, really.

Should you watch this in a cinema, though?
Only if you're dragged there by your younglings.
Even so, try to put them off until this is in the £1.50 Saturday morning slot

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
Not particularly.

Is this the best work of the cast or director?
It's not.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
Probably not.

Yes, but is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
There isn't.

Yes, but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 1: Features the voices of Nute Gunray, Captain Tarpals, Pong Krell and Letta Turmond from off of The Clone Wars.

Which isn't too shabby, at least.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 Nut shop, indeed. Not a cart, but an actual bricks and mortar shop. That's not a viable business-model, is it? "Oh hello Mr Bank Manager, can I borrow $250k to set up a shop which only sells nuts?". Give it three weeks and the bank would be torching that themselves for the insurance money, I think. [ BACK ]

*2 On a trailer-related note, I really like the animation style of the upcoming My Little Pony movie. Too bad I'm not going to watch it because it appears to be 90 minutes of shrieking awfulness... [ BACK ]

*3 The antagonist for this movie is a fat, transparently unpleasant, crooked businessman elected to a position of power, eager to skim the city's profits to facilitate building more golf courses. We get it mate, we get it. [ BACK ]

*4 To be fair, Heigl puts in the same amount of effort she usually does, but that's no consolation. [ BACK ]

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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