The Nut Job is a lively children’s full-length cartoon staring a selfish yet loveable rogue Surly Squirrel. Surly has been banished from his home Liberty Park in Oakton City, by self-appointed leader Raccoon, for costing the inhabitants their entire food store for winter.
With his loyal, mute rat friend Buddy in tow, Surly embarks on the heist of a nut store and unwittingly gets embroiled in a human gang’s bank robbery, resulting in some madcap capers.
It’s definitely fun and quite entertaining for children, but it’s not outstanding or unique, and there’s little for parents to really enjoy. Age wise, we think it’s best for 4yrs+ (more of this later).
So, if you’re heading out to see this with your children, here are 5 things you should know first…
1 It’s got 50s cartoon (eg, Tom & Jerry) style comedy
The 50s setting is quite subtle at first. It’s something that’s likely to go over the heads of younger viewers and may need to be explained, even to some older children. However, they will realise it’s taking place sometime in the past.
In keeping with the era, there’s a lot of Tom & Jerry-esque slapstick comedy – cue characters flying through the air, slamming into walls, and being spectacularly electrocuted. These gags are repeated often and throughout.
Our panel of reviewers (one parent, two children, 2 and 4-years-old) recommend that this film may not be right for many pre-schoolers. There’s a car chase with a bit of gunfire, and some more intense action towards the end that some parents may feel is not suitable for their little ones, especially those who are a little sensitive.
2 It features Batman – sort of
Well…not actually Batman but the vocal talents of Will Arnett who lends his dulcet tones to the role of Surly, and who also voiced Batman in the Lego Movie. We recognised this straight away. Arnett has quite a distinctive tone, and we found it hard to place it with the character of Surly.
Liam Neeson (Lego Movie, Khumba) on the other hand, is again at his best voicing a baddie, this time in the form of the scheming, controlling Raccoon. Maya Rudolph (Bridesmaids) is quite funny as Precious the Pug, a rather useless guard dog, and Brendan Fraser (The Mummy) hams it up as the incredibly dense, so called park ‘hero’, Grayson. There are also some rather menacing city rat characters, which some little ones may find a bit scary, as well as the intimidating, finger cracking character of Knuckles.
3 There are fart jokes aplenty
And they come thick and fast! Yes, to the delight of the children in the cinema, the film is full of gags relying on bodily functions, perhaps a few too many. We did have a good giggle at first, but it soon became a bit tiresome. There are also quite a few jokes that will go over the kids heads and may leave parents groaning and rolling their eyes!
4 It’s a bit complicated at times
There’s quite a complex narrative about trust running throughout the film with characters losing and gaining it in almost equal measures. Surly does not trust anyone, sometimes not even his loyal rat friend Buddy, nobody trusts Surly, although Andi would like to. And everyone trusts Raccoon.
The multi-layered plot of the film and some of the drawn-out scenes may confuse younger children and may lead to a lack of interest at times. The younger members of the panel found it a bit hard to follow and asked lots of questions about what was going on, instead of just enjoying watching the film.
5 Two words…Gangnam Style!
Thought you had heard the last of this 2013 musical phenomenon…or managed to avoid it first time round? Well not only does it feature as the tune of choice for an impromptu celebratory dance by Surly and Buddy, but also accompanies the credits along with a CGI version of the singer PSY doing the dance with the cast of characters!
Although this seems a little out of place in a film set in the 1950s, the kids loved it and it raised a few giggles and dance moves. If you really are not a fan…don’t stay for the closing credits. But it may mean you miss a little surprise scene at the end!