The Nut Job 2 is busy doing a lot of things, but it fails to store anything for the winter.
The Nut Job was not a good film. There was just no getting around its problems: an unlikable protagonist, cheap animation, a thin plot and Brendan Fraser. Regardless, it made back its budget, so I guess that explains why the gang’s all back for a sequel. Mercifully, new director Cal Brunker has dealt with some of the listed issues. Main character Surly (Will Arnett) is slightly more likeable this time around, and Fraser is gone. Other than that, it’s business as usual.
Following the events of the first film, the animals of Liberty Park have found paradise in the abandoned nut shop, much to the chagrin of Andie (Katherine Heigl) who believes they need to learn to forage in the park. Lucky for her, the shop gets swiftly destroyed, and the animals are forced to fend for themselves once again. At the same time, Mayor Muldoon (Bobby Moynihan) is looking to squeeze profit from every corner of his city, and decides to transform Liberty Park into an amusement park. The animals must band together to outwit the humans and save their homes from destruction.
You’ll immediately spot one of the film’s biggest problems: a scattered plot that never nails down coherent themes. The film initially aims for “the importance of hard work”, but it swiftly abandons that idea in favour of Muldoon and his Looney Tunes brand of capitalism, and in turn abandons that for various other ideas and sub-plots. It’s a busy film, and it lacks the narrative foundation to sustain that hyper activeness.
In 2014 The Nut Job was considered subpar. It’s now 2018, and The Nut Job 2 feels like it was made back-to-back with the original. It doesn’t so much push the franchise to interesting places (ala Toy Story 2), but rather kills it with apathy. It shouldn’t be this hard to fill an hour and a half, even more so in a children’s film where the minimum standard is one moral lesson, sometimes two. The Nut Job 2 can’t even manage to get that right. Families will have a better time seeing Coco again than enduring The Nut Job 2’s bottom of the barrel offerings.
The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature is available in Australian cinemas from January 12
Image courtesy of Roadshow Films