I was quite excited to be offered the opportunity to watch a new film ahead of the DVD release, and not knowing much about it before hand definitely increased the anticipation!
We were invited to watch The Nut Job as part of a timed screening throughout the UK on Sunday 6th December ahead of its release on the 7th.
I had a brief look at the details on IMDB before we were to watch, and immediately noticed the wide range of vocal talents on board. I must confess to being a particular fan of Will Arnett (of Arrested Development and Lego Batman fame) but was surprised to see names like Brendan Fraser and Liam Neeson on the listing too, I wouldn’t have thought this would be their domain but nevertheless, as fans of theirs too I was intrigued to see how it would work out.
The Nut Job pretty much dives straight in to the action, we meet Surly the Squirrel (Arnett) as he plans his daring attempt on a nut cart with his buddy, Buddy. It turns out that the nut cart is actually a front for a local mafia operation in the process of casing a bank ready to rob it. I would have imagined that this might go over the heads of the target audience i.e. younger children, but I suppose it is there to offer adults something to latch on to as well, certainly I found myself a little more interested in this secondary plot than the main action.
In terms of the main story, it was fairly standard fare, the classic tropes of outcast makes hero and so-called hero not being such were there, as well as the do-good leader having a sinister ulterior motive. Nothing particularly original in terms of the characters, but what I quite enjoyed was that we were treated in effect to a double heist; the Mafia taking the gold, and the wildlife taking the nuts. There are even a few twists, predictable as they may be. I myself didn’t really find much amusement in the tale, apart from the odd standout moment (the mafia gang’s dog was easily my favourite character) but my four year old loved it.
He often struggles when watching films, we are trying to ‘train’ him to sit through one so we know he is ready for a trip to the cinema, and for the most part The Nut Job held his attention nicely. He enjoyed the madcap comedy of errors that was Surly’s increasingly daring attempts at stealing nuts, and he particularly enjoyed the dog too. It was very nice to see him enjoying a film, even if perhaps he couldn’t quite grasp what the characters were actually doing.
Overall, The Nut Job joins a long list of family animated films, I wouldn’t say that it particularly stood out as spectacular, but for a zany heist-within-a-heist that all the family can enjoy, it can’t be beaten.