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article imageReview: ‘The Nut Job’ is an unpopped kernel Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Jan 17, 2014 in Entertainment
‘The Nut Job’ stars a curmudgeonly squirrel who is banished from his city park, only to stumble upon a something that could save his life.
Large parks aren't exactly zoos, but you can often find an array of animals populating their borders. However the lack of caretakers for the critters means they must work hard to ensure their own survival, including hunting for food. But the right score could set the entire park community up for the winter. In The Nut Job, a group of furry creatures discover just such a supply and scheme to make it their own.
Surly the squirrel (Will Arnett) doesn't play well with the park's other inhabitants with the exception of Buddy, his silent best friend. When a peanut cart caper goes awry, he is banished from the park by Raccoon (Liam Neeson), the community leader. However, exile sets Surly on the path to salvation – his friends' and his own. On his brief travels, Surly discovers a nut store that contains more than enough food for everyone – if they can get it home. First they have to get the nuts past some crooks planning a job of their own.
Though it initially seems clever to parallel the animals' burglary with that of the robbers, it's just another element that doesn't really pay off. Similarly the attempts to make Surly likeable while also living up to his name cancel each other out, creating an indifference to the film's protagonist – and several other of the main characters. Conversely, a few of the periphery personalities prove more captivating, including Buddy; Precious, a guard pug; and the Bruisers, sibling gophers.
The story simply plugs away without introducing anything new or exciting, and often just repeating with slight variation. It's relatively dull even for a children's caper movie. And since viewers are not significantly attached to any of the characters, it fails to draw their attention in any way that could be considered worth the price of admission, especially in 3D.
Arnett is well cast as the bad-tempered squirrel, but he's never given the opportunity to really unleash his surliness. Katherine Heigl voices the female lead, Andie, but her wishy-washy attitude towards Surly leaves little impression and makes the girl squirrel forgettable. Arnett’s Arrested Development co-star Maya Rudolph gives Precious her adorable personality and is probably the most memorable of the whole picture, which doesn't say much.
And to top it off, the co-South Korean production unveils one final assault on its audience: his name is Psy.
Director: Peter Lepeniotis
Starring: Will Arnett, Brendan Fraser and Liam Neeson
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