By Mark Saldana

Rating: 2 (Out of 4 Stars)

The Nut Job is another case where children will enjoy the silliness and the colorful visuals, but as for the adults escorting said children, they will probably wish that they hadn’t been dragged to the cinema to see a movie that could have been enjoyed at home. While not horrible, this movie does have a few jokes here and there that will make everyone smile and laugh, but it often feels like the filmmakers are trying way too hard to get their audiences to have a good time.  A dual plot involving both human and animal characters in similar scenarios is an inspired idea, but the results ultimately leave so much more to be desired.

Surly (Will Arnett), a squirrel who has the reputation of a troublemaker,  has been banished by the other animals for bad behavior.  When he finds a wealth of food in a nut shop, he decides that he and his good friend Buddy (Robert Tinkler) should target the business to acquire their inventory for the upcoming winter. Things become somewhat more complicated when the park animals led by squirrels Andie (Katherine Heigl) and Grayson (Brendan Fraser) have a similar idea.

Director Peter Lepionotis who co-writes with Lorne Cameron have novel ideas with this film and an exceptional voice cast, but end up disappointing with humor that misses more than hits and a mostly predictable plot. The material is typical redemption content that offers little surprises. Granted, the target audience is mainly children, but there are plenty of family friendly redemption stories out there that have more to offer. I did particularly enjoy the idea that Lepiontis and Carmeron have with the plot involving the animals mirroring some of the actions of the human characters, but otherwise, the movie doesn’t have much more to offer.

The filmmakers have assembled an outstanding voice cast for their characters, but the characters themselves are not developed too well. Will Arnett has an awesome voice which definitely belongs in animated movies. I look forward to his work as Batman in The Lego Movie and I do hope that his character get the proper treatment that both the actor and comic book icon deserve. Brendan Fraser brings a “gee whiz”, goofy charm to the attempted heroics of his character Grayson.  Liam Neeson delivers perfect voice work as the animal park leader Raccoon, but his character is highly typical of animated characters.  The movie also features fine work by Heigl, Stephen Lang as a mobster who goes by the name King, Maya Rudolph as a pug dog named Precious, as well as Jeff Dunham (Mole), Gabriel Iglesias (Jimmy), and other talented voice actors. With the wealth of voice talent cast for the movie, it really is a shame that these characters have such poor writing.

The visuals with the 3D effect do look gorgeous, but the writing does so little with the presentation and the talent behind these characters.  It is true that these issues may not deter a young child from finding entertainment in this movie, but it does limit this film from achieving wider appeal. My recommendation is to wait to rent this film because it may as well have been a straight to video release.

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