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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: The Nut Job

April 13th, 2014

The Nut Job - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray Combo Pack

The Nut Job opened earlier this year and was a surprise hit more than doubling its production budget domestically. It did so well that a sequel is already in the works. Is this a good movie? Is it merely good enough for a kids movie? Or did it thrive because there wasn't a lot of competition when it opened?

The Movie

We are first introduced to Surly, a squirrel, before we see the main group of animals living in Liberty Park. There is a bit of a panic, as food levels are really low. Racoon and Mole are going over the food supplies and they are at starvation level, so he sends Andie, our hero, and Grayson, the park hero, to raid a nut cart, and to watch out for Surly. Surly and his friend, Buddy, are already scoping out the nut cart looking to rob it.

Meanwhile, the nut cart isn't your typical business and is merely a cover for Fingers and Lucky, a pair of bank robbers who are scoping out the bank across the street. They're working with King, the leader of the gang. We will learn more about them later.

After Surly and Andie fight over who gets the nuts, and Surly antagonizes Finger's dog, Precious, the cart gets away. After a chase, the cart catches on fire and is launched into the Oak tree destroying it and all of the food within it. As a result, Surly is banished from the park to live alone, although Buddy does follow him. Their first night is terrifying with an encounter with a rat gang, but they end up getting away, and landing right in front of a nut shop.

The very nut shop Fingers and Lucky bought as a cover for robbing the bank next door. King arrives just then with his new associate, Knuckles, a man of no words (and therefore no voice actor) who has a talent for dynamite.

While Surly and Buddy attempt to get to the nuts, Andie and Grayson are sent out of the park to look for food. The pair are quickly separated and Andie runs into Surly. The pair argue, again, but Andie is able to make a deal that they will work together to get the nuts and that they will split the food 50/50. However, this is such a large job that she will need to get some help from the animals back at the park.

Can the animals of Liberty Park trust Surly enough to work with him? Will he try to double-cross them? Can Surly trust the animals of Liberty Park?

The Nut Job earned just 11% positive reviews. I do have some good news. It's not that bad. I have some bad news. It is still not good. I really like heist movies so I was hoping I would have some fun watching this film, but it is just so generic that it is really hard to get involved. None of the characters are engaging enough to cheer for. We've seen the bad guy turned good guy trope a few too many times and it is not very convincing this time around. Also, Surly as a character isn't sympathetic enough to cheer for for most of the film's running time, so his big change comes around too late. Andie is rather bland throughout the movie. Grayson starts as an annoying dumb hero type, but after he snaps, he does generate more laughs than most of the rest of the characters combined. Granted, most of the time these "laughs" are fart jokes. The film cost $25 million to make, depending on what sources you trust, so it doesn't look bad for that price-tag. It doesn't look great either, but it is on par with most second-tier digitally animated films. There are some okay action scenes, but throughout this movie I was thinking to myself, Over the Hedge did it first and did it better.

The Extras

Extras begins with five minutes of deleted and extended scenes. There are storyboards for a few scenes. There is a two-minute behind-the-scenes featurette. There are two short films by the same director, Peter Lepeniotis, that served as inspiration for this film. Finally, you can watch the animated Psy dance in the end credits. That's not a lot of extras, but the DVD only has the short films, so at least there are exclusive extras.

The technical presentation is solid, given the cost of the film. There are plenty of fine details and the colors are vivid. The audio is likewise very good with clear dialogue and lots of action in the surround sound speakers.

The Blu-ray costs $23, which is $5 or 28% more than the DVD. That's not a bad deal.

The Verdict

The Nut Job isn't as bad as its Tomatometer score would indicate, but there are far too many films that tell a similar story and do it better than this movie did. There are not enough extras on the DVD or the Blu-ray Combo Pack to be worth watching, but if your kids really wanted to see it in theaters but didn't have a chance, it might be worth a rental.

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Filed under: Video Review, The Nut Job, Liam Neeson, Brendan Fraser, Will Arnett, Katherine Heigl, Stephen Lang, Maya Rudolph, Jeff Dunham, Peter Lepeniotis, James Rankin, Scott Yaphe, Rob Tinkler