It makes sense that The Nut Job has more nut-related jokes, puns and entendres than other films less concerned with squirrels. But a running count yields only 13, including the title — a stingy number, considering the film’s proliferation of opportunities, including a climax hinging on nuts in sacks. This animated feature’s script doesn’t shy away from low-hanging fruit, though, indulging in slapstick, wacky voices and wildlife-themed insult humor, but the filmmakers really threw off their restraints with the animals’ exuberant, beefy farting. Surly Squirrel (Will Arnett) sees himself as an antihero, plundering nut stands for his winter stash during a lean year when the other animals in Oakton Park are expecting to starve. After accidentally destroying the small supply of food stockpiled by the squirrels, raccoons, moles and other urbanized woodland critters, Surly is banished from the park and has to make his way on the city’s mean, rat-infested streets. He discovers a lifetime supply of food at a nut shop beneath which the film’s bad guys are digging a tunnel into the vault of a nearby bank, and the two heists coincide. The film’s visuals evoke 1940s urban America, with vintage cabs, fedora-wearing wise guys, Irish cops and low-browed palookas, but the generic period affectation is undermined by anachronistic jokes and some totally gratuitous “Gangnam Style.” Good-natured and completely forgettable, the film includes the voices of Brendan Fraser and Liam Neeson, with Maya Rudolph as the best character, a pug who feels guilty about her lack of aggression toward rodents.
Peter LepeniotisWill Arnett, Katherine Heigl, Brendan Fraser, Liam Neeson, Stephen Lang, Sarah Gadon, Maya RudolphPeter Lepeniotis, Lorne CameronOpen Road Films