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The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature – Movie Review

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The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature – Movie Review

Rating: B (Good)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy eOne Films

The Nut Job was a pleasant animated surprise, mixing Looney Tunes-style slapstick with a heist plot. With the sequel, the team at ToonBox Entertainment have toned down the more scatological jokes and developed the characters, producing a slightly superior follow-up. Surly Squirrel still lives up to his name, but there’s been solid progression since the last outing. The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature allows time for the park animals to face proper dilemmas as their park faces destruction. With an improved animation quality and wittier jokes, director Cal Brunker nicely expands on the world first laid down by Peter Lepeniotis in an independent short twelve years ago.

While slapstick gags abound in The Nut Job 2, the more verbal jokes have a sharper quality to them this time around. The one-liners spouted by these animals are legitimately clever and the filmmakers have also reduced the number of flatulence jokes to zero. Even the first Nut Job couldn’t help but include a couple of bodily function gags, so the sequel is remarkably restrained in that regard. The screenplay even mocks the animated convention of breaking into song, plus some political commentary aimed at the villainous mayor. The filmmakers appear to have a grudge against construction workers and the script avoids many of the tired clichés so often found with evil developers in family pictures.

The film zips through a series of fast-paced action scenes that take full advantage of the freeing medium of computer animation. The finale in the amusement park is genuinely exciting, while still managing to fit in multiple humourous jokes. The addition of a gang of kung fu mice allows for some spirited fight sequences and Jackie Chan’s casting, while obvious, doesn’t feel like stunt casting. He probably has more lines in The Nut Job 2 than he had in the entire The Kung Fu Panda trilogy. However, the film still remembers to slow down and allow for quieter moments. While one series of events is fairly predictable to anyone has seen their fair share of animated films, the effort and willingness to go this emotional route is appreciated.

As strong as the first and third acts are, the middle portion does have the occasional pacing issue. One subplot involving Precious the Pug Dog and the mayor’s daughter seems devised purely to add a fun chase scene and lead to the aforementioned attempt at emotion. It’s a little contrived. There’s also an oddly placed flashback scene. Its purpose makes sense, but it stops the story and doesn’t add too much to the overall plot and character development. Thankfully, the humour still more than succeeds during this section. The casting of talented voice actors like Will Arnett, Kari Wahlgren and Laraine Newman also gives these park animals further hilarity.

The Nut Job wasn’t to everyone’s tastes, but remarkably, Cal Brunker and the rest of the team behind The Nut Job 2 have taken the criticisms to heart. So much of what most people disliked about the predecessor has been seriously dialed down, resulting in an even better adventure. The storyboard artists and animators have really been allowed to go to town, with the animation looking almost Pixar quality at times. It’s also nice the investors were confident enough in the story to not force “Gangdum Style” onto the proceedings this time around. A post-credits scene hints at a possible sequel and another comic escapade with Surly, Buddy, Andie and the other park critters would certainly be a welcome treat.

 

Stefan Ellison
THE SCENE

Stefan Ellison