The Nut Job on DVD
by Phil Boatwright

Now on DVD and Blu-Ray, this kid’s comedy cartoon form Universal has bonus features. Voices: Will Arnett, Brendan Fraser, Gabriel Iglesias, Liam Neeson and Katherine Heigl. Rated PG for some raucous behavior, a few crude passing gas gags and lots of danger-fueled action. 85 min.

FILM SYNOPSIS: An incorrigibly self-serving exiled squirrel finds himself helping his former park brethren raid a nut store to survive. Turns out, the store is also a front for hoods planning a bank robbery.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Some animated films directed at little ones have no more objective than to bemuse their intended audience with movement, sound and color. Such is the case of The Nut Job, a charmless romp designed to hold the attention of those who have yet to attain discerning tastes. While it may hold the attention of those still enchanted by SpongeBob, I pity parents forced to view alongside their pandered-to progeny.

There are mobsters and rats and ceaseless chases abound, but it lacks a feeling of caprice. It’s just not fun. I give you the promise of hungry squirrels scheming to steal a vendor’s nut cart holds promise, but overall the humor falls flat, the voices lack charisma and the life lessons are so muted by the klutzy comedy that I wondered why the writer even bothered.

Remember, that’s just my opinion. Another reviewer called it “Enormously Entertaining!” And I realize the desired demographic views movies differently than aging critics, but I always prefer it when a film aimed at children also amuses adults. Films such as Chicken Run aim up with their humor rather than hold attention just with action overkill and flatulence jokes.

DVD Alternative: Chicken Run. From the people who gave us the Wallace and Gromit shorts comes a claymation comedy set at a chicken farm where a flock of hens are determined to fly the coop before meeting a fowl fate. When a rooster, shot from a circus cannon, sails over the fence of a Stalag 17-like egg hatchery, the hens believe he can fly. Not wanting to go back to the circus, the rooster makes a deal. If they hide him, he will teach the chicks to fly. Of course, as we all know, don’t we, chickens can’t fly. But something better happen quickly, for the owner is determined to turn the egg farm into a death camp. With enough visually going on to keep little ones enthralled, it also contains sly, pun-riddled humor to keep the most anti-animation adult amused. And let’s not forget the sight gags. Picture a rooster in solitary, ala Steve McQueen’s Cooler Joe in The Great Escape. The expressive faces (chickens with teeth – is that great?), the pacing, adventure and witty dialogue make for a fun family movie outing. Chicken Run is finger-lickin’ good. (Sorry, couldn’t help myself with KFC reference.)