Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature ★

Image result for The Nut Job 2 Surly


    It breaks my heart to review films such as "The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature." No, really. For whatever reason, animated pictures have become more or less intolerable as of late, and I hate to sound like a broken record, but this diminution in quality doesn't seem to be a temporary trend. In truth, the genre has all but lost its allure and drawing power. (Although I'm playing ignorant, I do have a hunch as to why the art of animation has diminished in value here in the twenty-first century: No imagination, no novelty.) And we wonder why our youngsters are becoming dumber by the day.

    In so many words, "The Nut Job 2" is boring, bland and all around bovine, and it's the kind of movie that makes ninety minutes feel like an eternity. (It will also test the sobriety of anyone with half a brain.) A list of grievances: The forgettable characters, led by an overconfident and smug squirrel named Surly (Will Arnett), belch out lines of dialogue infused with the film's multiple themes (we're told that there are no shortcuts in life, and there's a lesson in teamwork and diligence), but before long, the narrative sheds its solemnity in favor of inane humor and clich├ęd storytelling. (I shouldn't have to tell you this, but the banter on display will only appeal to small children, and if you're lucky, a salvific slumber will save you from any further suffering.) Topping it all off, the computer-generated imagery is below par, and the paint-by-number plot threads hang looser than a "fille de joie" on a Friday night. (Unfortunately, I am compelled to provide a summary of the story in the ensuing paragraph, so consider this a fair warning.)

    The film opens with the rodents of Oakton living large in the basement of a local nut shop, and according to Andie (Katherine Heigl), the determined yet uncoordinated female lead, they've become lazy, fat, and have forgotten their survival instincts. (I would make an effort to examine this aspect of the plot in an allegorical light, but I fear the script could never muster up that manner of meaning in a million years.) By sheer accident, their new abode is destroyed, and they must once again turn to the neighboring park for shelter and sustenance. And if that wasn't uninspiring enough for you, we're subsequently introduced to Mayor Muldoon (Bobby Moynihan), a timeworn antagonist fueled by greed and, well, that's about it. You see, Muldoon aspires to eradicate Liberty Park so that he may open "Liberty Land," an amusement park fashioned out of used parts. Surly and Andie will have to rally the troops if they are to stop the mayor of Oakton from committing this avaricious act and reclaim their former dwelling.

    Parents: I'm really tired of ripping these movies—it's exhausting, and there are only so many ways one can condemn this perversion of children's entertainment. But I trudge on for two reasons: because it's my job, and I'm obligated to inform parental audiences of the asininity that has crept into every children's picture not being produced by Disney. (This surely doesn't mean that Disney and their sister company, Pixar, will avoid future castigation. It just means, very simply, that their films have a smidgen more soul to them.) I have been saying this for years; there's no harm, I guess, in beating a dead horse for the umpteenth time. If these production companies wish to restore the art of animation to its past glory, then it has to start with better writing and source material of a higher standard. In the case of "The Nut Job 2," just file it under insipid mediocrity.