2017-08-10 / Arts & Entertainment News

‘The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature’

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danHUDAK
punchdrunkmovies.com

“The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature” is not just atrocious, it’s insulting to the human race. Literally. The only decent humans in the film are the cops in the end; everyone else seems to come straight from hell.

Somewhere I feel like the filmmakers are laughing at the poor schleps who pay money to see their species get endlessly derided for 91 minutes. It’s so egregious that even man’s best friend, a dog, sides with life in the wild over the safety of domesticity.

In the 2014 original, Surly the purple squirrel (Will Arnett) spent most of the movie gaining access to a nut store. By the end he and his kind enjoyed free and complete rein to an endless supply of nuts, so all was well. At the start of “The Nut Job 2,” the store blows up. Easy come, easy go.

Now forced to scrounge for food in the park once again, Surly and his rat friend Buddy (Tom Kenny) soon have bigger problems: The evil mayor (Bobby Moynihan) wants to destroy their home and build an amusement park in its place. The mayor is so comically over-the-top villainous that his daughter (Isabela Moner) is a nightmare, he’s avaricious with a maniacal laugh, and he drives on the sidewalk during traffic jams, recklessly endangering all in his way.


>> Jackie Chan provides the voice of Mr. Feng, a Kung Fu-fighting mouse; it’s his first animated film outside the “Kung Fu Panda” universe. >> Jackie Chan provides the voice of Mr. Feng, a Kung Fu-fighting mouse; it’s his first animated film outside the “Kung Fu Panda” universe. The animals, led by Surly and Andie (Katherine Heigl), fight back. They make life impossible for the construction workers, leading the mayor to call in a needlessly cruel exterminator (Peter Stormare). But let’s pause here for a moment to grasp what’s happening. The mayor, greedy as he may be, is trying to build something his citizens may enjoy. The animals are being displaced and are resisting the change, and director Cal Brunker has us siding with the animals even though we should be siding with the guy who wants to do a nice thing for us humans.

It gets worse. The humans are odious throughout, but the damage and danger caused by the animals is nothing to laugh at (additionally, FYI, nothing in the movie is funny). Bulldozers topple over, an office trailer is destroyed, trucks are impossibly upended by a group of mice. All of these things endanger people who are just doing their jobs.

I know, I know. The animals are endangered too. But two wrongs don’t make a right. And I know, I know. I’m talking about warped perspective in an animated film aimed solely at kids, and I seem to be taking it far too seriously. But the fact that this message is aimed at kids is why I’m taking it so seriously. Children are impressionable and naïve, and it’s not a stretch to think they could walk out of “The Nut Job 2” thinking all animals are friendly and need to be protected and all humans are evil and up to no good. Neither is true. Worse, they could believe that taking any measures necessary to protect animals is okay as long as you stop people from doing bad things. The inherent subjectivity in this is not accounted for, which means the extremes depicted make this a dangerous message to send.

Making it all worse is how tone-deaf writers Brunker, Bob Barlen and Scott Bindley are. At one point the animals joke about hollowing out and killing trees. Irony, anyone? Worse, pug Frankie (Bobby Cannavale) mentions teaching his puppies “the skills they need to be competitive in the dog marketplace.” For what? Frankie just chose to live in the wild, so what would his pups be in the competitive market for?

I’ve never seen a movie as blatantly anti-human as “The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature.” If the intention was a message of environmental protection, it gets woefully lost. It’s not just bad, it’s derogatory to the very people who pay money to see it. Keep your integrity and avoid a movie that’s giving you a middle finger. ¦

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