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Nut Job, The (DQ)


Stars: Voices: Will Arnett, Katherine Heigl, Liam Neeson, Brendan Fraser, Stephen Lang, Maya Rudolph, Gabriel Iglesias, Jeff Dunham, Sarah Gadon, Rob Tinkler

Director: Peter Lepeniotis

Brilliantly animated and vividly, beautifully coloured, this squirrelly cartoon feature loses ground every time its characters open their mouths. And its action is confused - as is the plot, jerkily paced throughout. And yet its animals are so well drawn and brought to life that The Nut Job does have quite a bit going for it.

Surly (Arnett, not great), a self-serving black squirrel, banished from 'the park' for undermining the efforts of its animals to store food for the winter, has his eye on a cart selling nuts which, unbeknown to him, is part of the cover for crooks planning to rob the bank by tunneling in from the nut shop next door.

'I don't need anybody,' snaps Surly, who's ever ungrateful to his one friend, Buddy (Tinkler), a rat. But he does, of course, once into the basement of the shop, where he discovers nut heaven - and a pug named Precious (Rudolph), whom he's able to control with a high-frequency whistle he comes into possession of.

But the park animals, led by Graydon (Fraser), a puffed-up grey squirrel with an inflated idea of his own worth, and Andie (Heigl), a feisty red squirrel with a soft spot for Surly, also get involved. Soon, double-crosses abound on both human and animal sides, and the prime villain of the piece turns out to be revered park elder Raccoon (Neeson), just as we all suspected.

'Animals are controlled by the amount of food they have, ' he snarls to accomplice Mole (Dunham). 'So it is our duty to keep it from them.' No prizes for guessing who turns out to be the hero.

Juniors will delight in the frequent breaking-wind jokes, and ignore the fact that the film's jagged continuity makes it difficult to follow, not to mention the remote possibility of red, black and grey squirrels actually getting on.

But, with a little more care and attention, this could have so much better than just the kernel of a bright idea. Still, what do I know: Nut Job 2 is already on the drawing-boards.

David Quinlan

Canada/South Korea 2013. UK Distributor: Warner Brothers. Technicolor.
85 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: U.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 30 Jul 2014