This was a little disappointing, but I can’t say my expectations were that high to begin with.
The story is about a group of animals that live in a city park who are trying to prepare their food stores for winter, and a couple of outcast animals who prefer to look out for themselves rather than participate in the communal search for food. The outcasts are Surly (Will Arnett) and his friend Rat, while the primary characters in the park are Grayson, the obnoxious, cocky hero (Brendan Fraser), the leader, Raccoon (Liam Neeson), and the voice of reason squirrel Andie (Katherine Heigl).
Once the animals discover a new nut cart in the park, they all scheme to get the nuts to boost their store for the winter as there is currently a shortage. The problem is, the nut cart belongs to a shop that is actually a cover for a bank robbery. This actually created an interesting parallel story where the animals are trying to steal the nut cache from the shop and the humans are trying to steal money from the vault in the bank next door.
The movie had potential with that parallel story, but it went too far. The stories were so parallel, they were almost identical. Nice play on words with the title in this case, but I’m not sure it made that much sense to its focus audience. It was also a fun twist having Liam Neeson’s character turn out to be the bad guy. That warm paternal voice is so often the good guy or at least the protagonist, but here he’s the full-on baddie.
I think it was most disturbing that once prominent actors like Katherine Heigl and Brendan Fraser are now reduced to doing movies like this. Will Arnett has a prominent series on CBS and Liam Neeson’s film career is bigger than ever, so for them, this was just a quick paycheck and a break from the stress of being actors with all kinds of work coming their way.
But for Heigl and Fraser, neither of whom has been on the big screen much in the past few years, this seems to be the bottom of the barrel they’re scraping for work. Which is too bad. Because I love Brendan Fraser just as much as I did the first time I saw him, George of the Jungle in 1997 (I also know his earlier work, School Ties, Airheads, etc., but that was the first one I saw). And Katherine Heigl is damn funny, even if she seems to be a high maintenance person to work with.
However, while there were a few laughs, The Nut Job was not the kind of fun, wacky, quotable animated film that audiences of all ages are probably going to enjoy. Probably better leave this one for the kids – the young kids.
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