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Review

‘Nut Job’ lacks laughs, depth

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February 6, 2014

The month of February has not kicked off to a good start for movies here in River Falls, as “The Nut Job” limps its way to theaters to remind you of why pun centric humor is not funny.

Surly Squirrel is his own squirrel, and only relies on himself to survive. He, along with his friend Buddy, has been a thorn in the paws of the local park creatures for too long, as they are trying to scavenge food for the winter. But when he accidentally causes an event that destroys the food supply, Surly is banished to across the street to fend for himself.

Poster for The Nut Job.
The Nut Job is the animated story about a squirrel that wants to rob a nut store.

When all seems lost, Surly finds the mother load: a nut store that could set him and the park animals for life. He then plots with and against the animals of the park for this lifesetting treasure, and in the end will need to find out where his loyalties lie, and if greed is really the final end in life.

I dreaded seeing this movie. I took one look at this work, put in a medium I love, and I immediately knew this wasn’t going to turn out well. As I walked to the theater, I was hoping for there to be a long enough line so I could turn back. I was hoping for it to be sold out, for I would have faced the chilling winds on the way back to my dorm as an alternative to seeing “The Nut Job.” But no, I had to chin up and take my medicine, and it was a grisly and oily taste that was left in my mouth after my fears were realized in that theater.

My first problem with “The Nut Job” I saw even in the trailers for it. The production on the film is very low quality for a theatrically released film. The textures on the animal characters were very poor and the environments looked lifeless. The animation overall looks like it should have been a straight to DVD released film.

However, the sub-par animation pales in comparison to the film’s script, which is just about the least inspired thing I have seen in recent years. The plot is something we’ve seen done countless times before, where the protagonist gets in trouble, gets a big plan, redeems himself, defeats the obvious bad guy and saves the day. Hollywood has done this plot to death and I’m sure no one today even wants to see this done again.

Surly Squirrel is a very unlikeable main character, constantly abusing his buddy and not even being able to make up for it with any other qualities, which he lacks significantly. That goes to say for all of the very forgettable characters in this film.

The film could not even elicit a decent laugh from me or the audience. It was so inept at setting up even a single joke that many fell flat and generated no humor. For an animated comedy, they were scraping well past the bottom of the barrel and into the dirt beneath it.

This was all on top of a gangster subplot that could have been taken out, a dated pop-culture reference, inconsistent scenes and weird voice actor choices, not that telling you Will Arnett voiced the main character would have made the movie sound any better.

“The Nut Job” truly represented a good image of everything that makes animated movies bad: promoting the ideal that bare-minimum joke writing and unimpressive animation is all your kid deserves. The film is not funny or entertaining for adults, but may generate a few laughs from a kid, although you could give a child as much entertainment by jingling your keys in front of them. At least it wouldn’t cost you five dollars and 90 minutes of your life.

Ryan Funes is a lover of all things movie, TV, video games and stories and wants to become a television writer someday. In his spare time he enjoys hanging with friends, tapping into his imagination, and watching cartoons of all kinds.