Hello, Spongey here.
Well, it’s time to dive into a film from 2014. No, Cloud 9 and Fairly Odd Summer don’t count. It’s been an okay year so far compared to last year, and of course I have films lined up. Legend of Hercules, Best Night Ever, I Frankenstien, etc etc.
So, let’s start my 2014 reviews with the first animated film of the year. It’s….interesting. Thanks to the marketing, a lot of people bashed it to hell and back, and that didn’t stop when it came out. Infact, it got a lot of negative reviews, with a low RT score, and even and even an F from AV Club. Then again they gave a B- to How to To Train your Dragon 2 so who cares?
If you recall, in post I did early in the year, I said this movie had a chance of being good. Looks like that chance isn’t too high now. However, I can’t judge something before I see it. So today, I will find it how good or bad it is.
But first, some background info. It’s based on a 2005 short called Surly Squirrel. I’ve never seen it but I’ve heard it’s pretty good. Even those who hated this movie like it….so there’s that.
One of the writers wrote Over the Hedge, which explains why they 2 are kind of similar. They are both heist movies starring rodents. It also happens to be the most expensive animated film made in South Korea, because there’s so many.
It made money, and there’s gonna be a sequel. I’d say something but let’s dive in and see if it’s deserving of another chapter.
This, is The Nut Job
The movie opens with narration from our hero, Surly, voiced by Will Arnett.
“It’s a tough nut to crack”
Wow, a nut pun and we’re not even 2 minutes in. Joy.
He tells us about how life sucks, and he’s just a loner dude trying to get his nuts. Very admirable. We cut to a group of animals in a park, lead by a Raccoon voiced by Liam Neeson. This movie just got better!
They are low on nuts, but Andie, voiced by Katherine Heigel, is going to visit a nut cart to get their nut fix. However, Liam forces her to take Grayson, voiced by Brendan Fraiser with her. He’s a dumb jock that type that everyone loves, despite him being a dick.
….So he’s reprising his role from Escape From Planet Earth?
Surly and his non-speaking friend plan to rob that same nut cart. Also, the guy running that cart is actually a bad guy using it as a front, and now he’s talking to the cops cuz a little girl told on him,
“That man assaulted me with nuts!”
Andie catches Surly trying to rob the cart but he isn’t having of her shit. Even after she tells him these nuts are for the park animals, he doesn’t really care. Our heroes, ladies and gentlemen!
“I don’t care what Racoon thinks”
You better. Or he will find you….and he will kill you.
Surly lowers himself to nap the nuts but a dog tries to stop him. This leads to some slapstick which ends with the cart crashing and Surly getting the nuts. The cart crashes into the tree at the park, which blows up. This means they have no food for winter.
“You guessed are messed for Winter, man!”
….Surly is a dick. I get that he’s kind of a trickster, and he will hopefully grow, but that’s just cruel, dude!
Thankfully, he is punished as he is banned from the park.
“He has refused to join us, ridiculed our hard work, stolen, cheated, lied, and now destroyed our only food for winter”
Andie stands up for him (despite deserving all of this) but he is still banned. He ends up in the city where slapstick ensues. Some of this is pretty amusing. I don’t have much an opinion of the film so far, but I will comment on the animation now.
It’s solid. While it’s not Dreamworks or anything, everything looks decent enough and it mostly fines in the fast paced slapstick scenes. Some of it looks flat, like some of the humans and the backgrounds, but mostly, it’s serviceable.
After a run in with some rats, Surly actually starts….to regret his actions!? Yeah, after going trough hell, he says he wants to be take back in , and he will even listen to Racoon.
“I’ll do anything”
…Okay, you almost made up for being a dick. Is that like Hannah Montana the movie, where our lead to be a dick only at the start to get the plot rolling?
Anyway, he and buddy end up at a Nut shop, and they attempt to raid it. As it turns out, the Nut Shop is a cover for some bad guys who are planning to rob a bank. Yeah, that’s this whole heist that is going alongside our main heist plot. It’s a neat idea so let’s see how they handle it.
Meanwhile, Andie and Grayson head off to find food when they bump into a nasty rat. They get separated and we cut to the next morning as our human baddies are visited by this one guy’s girlfriend, Lana. She thinks they have gone straight and are opening a nut shop. Not sure how important that will be, but whatever.
Surly causes some chaos, and he escapes. The bad guys have a viscous fat dog but they had a dog whistle to control her. The lead guy threw it away cuz he can hear it, and Surly tries to get it so he can stop the dog. But Andie shows up and they bump into each other.
She suspects he found food, but he doesn’t have time to argue with her as the dog is distracted enough for him to get back some nuts he hid. While doing this, he ends up in the basement which is full of nuts. The dog pops up for more slapstick.’
Looks this is another case of me having nothing to say. There isn’t really much to comment on. Right it’s just plot and slapstick. Nothing really annoying or dumb is happening now, at least anything I can comment on. Hopefully something dumb happens soon.
Surly gets the whistles and corners the dog, who can talk. Why she didn’t talk before is anyone’s guess. She also wants to be a good guy now because we need more comedic relief in this movie.
Andie pops up and offers to team up as they can work together to get some of these nuts to the park. He isn’t up for this at first, but she’s gonna dig a tunnel to get the nuts out anyway. She heads back to the park and tells everyone about her plan.
“Winter is coming’
Raccoon agrees to the plan but he says they will ditch Surly when they get the nuts. I’m not sure if I side with Surly now or not since he did cause this issue to begin with….but he’s a tad more likable now but I’ll see if he’s deserving of this cruelty.
Andie and some Mole head to the The nut Shop where they meet up with Surly. So now he wants to team up. Okay, he’s likable now. So we get a scene with our heroes and the human villains discussing the plans. The bad guys will rob the bank and fill the vaults with nuts, while the rodents will plan a heist of their own, only with nuts.
Okay, we get a fun set up, so we’ll see how this goes. Anyway, eventually they get some nuts but they blew up a hole to get to them, the bad guys patch it up and now they gotta get back in. However, the moles must wait for Raccoon to say yes to start and Surly is pissed.
Andie tells Surly that Liam Neeson is playing to double cross him which he takes well, because he was gonna double cross them anyway. I’d say he’s a dick again but Racoon is being a dick to….but he has a point about Surly so…I don’t know.
Speaking of Racoon, we cut to him as we find out he is actually a power hungry con artist who is keeping food from the other animals. So, he’s a villain. That’s awesome but it does kind of make the Surly thing weird. The only guy to point out how much of a dick he is the bad guy. Surly conflicts me.
Anyway, after some more stuff, Surly catches Mole, the guy who has been spying on them for Raccoon.
“You’re the mole! Double Entendre intended”
….That’s not that a Double Entendre.
Mole tells him about Racoon’s plan, and Surly tells the others. They think he’s full of shit. It doesn’t get better when he says his silent friend is useless. Surly leaves and of course he’s captured by the human bad guys.
Then Lana comes in to see their evil doing.
“Now you know”
And knowing is half the-*shot*
The bad guys just go off to rob the bank and Lana sets Surly free. Was she just there to do it? Otherwise, this plot thread seems pointless. Raccoon shows up and catches Surly. The bad guys blow up the wall to get into the bank, which allows Surly to escape. A bunch of other stuff happens, and the bad guys accidentally take the nuts with them instead of the money, and Surly and Grayson, who is in the movie again, head off to get those nuts.
Also, Grayson is a flat out good person. They avoided making him more of a dick. ….Well, it’s an improvement over his character in Escape from Planet Earth. Eventually, there’s a fight in the bad guy’s truck with Surly, Andie, the moles, Grayson, and Liam Neeson.
Everyone else finds out Raccoon is a bad guy and the human bad guys are surround by the cops.
“I saw this coming’
Stuff happens, and Andie ends up danging over the dam. Andie falls but before we get the Disney Death moment, Surly and Raccoon end up in a log in the river, which is being pushed by the weird mysterious bad guy who could hear the dog whistle. That’s not important cuz Andie shows up to save Surly, but he actually selflessly lets go falls down with Raccoon.
Whoa, a heroic sacrifice? Okay, he’s likable. Something happens that makes the nuts rain from the sky and end up in the park, despite how far away these 2 locations are. Anyway, the human bad guys are carted away, and Lana breaks up with that one guy.
That subplot was important.
We get a nice moment as the dog and the friend, whose name is Buddy by the way, mourn Surly’s “death”. Yeah, he’s not dead. He hasn’t even gotten up, I just say that cuz I’ve seen another movie before.
Also, Buddy finally speaks.
This is well done. I like that Surly, despite his…..Surly-ness, learned his lesson and sacrificed himself for the good of the park. Yep, he’s likable now.
He comes to (called it) and everyone is happy. Surly says he has learned his lesson and he will get food the park and not just himself. But he wants to be humble upon about it and thinks the other animals were the true heroes, even though they did jack shit. But still, he’s now willing to work with others.
So he and Buddy head off into the city and gives us more narration.
“Life’s really there for the sharing. Once you realize that, you might discover there’s a little hero in all of us”
Eh, the moral fit better than in other movies, I guess.
“After all, we’re all a little nuts”
Hey, there were only like 2 nut puns in this. Wow, restraint!
And the credits roll. This is where I’d end things, and bitch about the abrupt ending but….let’s talk about the credits. What happens in the credits?
An animated PSY pops up and they all do Gangem (I’m sure I spelled that wrong) style.
No, really. Actually, I think you all know this because everyone was bitching about it. Yeah….it’s the stupidest thing ever. According to the director, this was forced on them by the studio.
No surprise there.
I’ll let slide cuz it’s a credits thing, and oddly enough, its the only forced pop culture reference in this whole film. Let’s move on.
Meh, it was okay.
Yeah, this movie was very very average, but not in the way Free Birds was. At least it didn’t have a stupid ending. …Credits aside.
It’s not as bad as everyone says it is, not even close. But it really needed a few rewrites. Let’s go over the positives. The animation was decent, it had some funny moments,the premise is interesting, and I like the whole zippy Saturday Morning Cartoon approach. Also, no forced pop culture references ftw!
It doesn’t try to take itself too seriously, and it’s harmless. However, here is where the negatives come in. The characters, for the most part, are dull. Andie is there to be a woman, and everyone else exits for jokes and that’s it. Grayson isn’t as much of a dick as I thought he would be, but it’s like the writers forget he exists at times.
The dog is annoying, though I did like the human bad guys okay. Speaking of which, Racoon was not interesting but he made for an okay bad guy and Liam Neeson did a great job. No one is annoying, for the most part, but it feels like they are there to be there.
By the way, one of the moles was voiced by Anna from Time Warp Trio, and a cop was voiced by Fred. Huh.
As for Surly….he was odd. He’s too much of a dick at the start, but he switches between funny, dick, and likable. I think they needed to rewrite him a bit to make him better in the first half, as he isn’t fully likable until he learns his lesson. Aside from him and Raccoon, the characters are dull. Not hate able, but dull.
The story isn’t too bad but it’s nothing amazing either. It goes through the motions with no big twists. I think they needed to throw in a few more interesting parts, and remove some of the filler, like the stuff with Lana.
It kind of feels like an Early Draft of the script that got published before they could do rewrites. With some retooling, this could have been hilarious, but as it is, it’s just okay. Not good, not bad. Just…okay.
I think they needed to make the story more interesting, give more depth to the characters, balance the plots out more, and add more funny jokes. As it is, it’s passable for kids but for adults, there’s better options out there. Heck, both Will Arnett and Liam were in a better option that came out a month later.
Yeah, a 6 seemed too high, and I couldn’t grade it well enough. So there you go.
Next time, we do a film I’ve been wanting to do for awhile.