You never know where you’re going to find the most radical ideas. Somehow, a sub-par animated film sequel intended to quiet the kids for a few hours burns with a proletarian rage. You’d never expect that from “The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature,” but somehow, it’s true.
First, a warning about truth (or lack thereof) in advertising. In “The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature,” there is no job that involves nuts, as promised by the title. The first early moments are a celebration of the nut-based life, as Surly the Squirrel (Will Arnett) and his rodent palls enjoy a Dionysian feast of nuts, seeds and legumes in the basement of a closed nut shop.
This plentiful abundance of free food, however, is all too easy, and soon, the entire shop has been blown to smithereens, the result of an errant boiler valve. At any rate, the moral of the film is that there is very little value in “easy” — no hard work, no character building, no wild animal instincts. This is the ethos espoused by the finger-wagging nag of a squirrel Andie (Katherine Heigl), who is opposed to Surly’s grifter tendencies. So in the wake of the nut shop explosion, it’s back to the scrounge ‘n’ gather way of life for Surly and Pals, if that way of life even exists anymore.
Nutty by Nature,” directed and co-written by Cal Brunker, is a searing indictment of capitalistic government corruption, embodied by the cravenly criminal Mayor of Oakton City (Bobby Moynihan). He destroys and develops the city park where these rodents enjoy a collective lifestyle in order to build an amusement park, Liberty Land, a monument to crass consumerism and cutting corners. When the rodents resist this development, the Mayor unleashes exterminators to violently suppress the uprising.
That’s not the only revolutionary element of the film. Just wait until you see the army of kung fu trained Chinese mice, led by the furry, ferocious Mr. Feng (Jackie Chan), who join the rodent insurgents in their rebellion against their greedy human oppressors. They too have been driven from their park, now a golf course. The most terrifyingly sadistic villain happens to be Heather (Isabela Moner), the Mayor’s daughter, a fiery-haired bourgeois demon in a small child’s body,
This is a film of excesses and extremes. From the orgiastic festival of nuts that the film opens with, to the violent mayhem that it descends into, “Nutty by Nature” is a relentless melee. It’s an unexpectedly radical, if otherwise rather rote animated sequel.
‘The Nut Job 2: Nutty
Rated PG for action and some rude humor
Running time: 1 hour, 31 minutes
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