Most people love squirrels, outside living their merry way, climbing up trees, and just general squirrel things. However, if you remember the beginning of the film “Inglorious Basterds” where Christoph Waltz’s character calls them rats that are cute and furry and with a tail, that is also an opinion out there. For me, when I was a child I visited Yellowstone Park, where there were areas where the squirrels got so accustomed to humans that they would literally eat nuts out of my open hand.
“The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature” is the new animated film directed by Cal Brunker (Escape from Planet Earth, Ninjamaica) and features the voice talents of Will Arnett (The Lego Movie, Despicable Me), Katherine Heigl (Knocked Up, The Ugly Truth), Maya Rudolph (Bridesmaids, Big Hero 6), Jackie Chan (Rush Hour, The Master), Peter Stomare (22 Jump Street, Fargo), Bobby Cannavale (Chef, Ant-Man), Bobby Moynihan (Inside Out, SNL), Isabela Moner (Splitting Adam, Middle School), Tom Kenny (SpongeBob SquarePants, Appollo Gauntlet), and Jeff Dunham (Angie Tribeca, Smurfs: The Lost Village). Starting off where the original kind of left off, Surly (Arnett) is kind of the hero due to the huge amount of nuts he found at the basement of the closed Nut Shop building until there is an explosion, leaving the building and the nuts gone. Andie (Heigl) tries to convince the group to go back across the street to Liberty Park and go back to hunting and storing nuts like nature intended while the evil and greedy mayor (Moynihan) wants to turn Liberty Park into an amusement park to line his pockets even more. What follows is the clan of animals trying to survive and at the same time fight the evil mayor (who is cutting corners on the amusement park to get even richer) so they can return the park to normal so they can have a place to live.
By today’s standards of animation, this is on par with the rest of the big studio releases. The look did not blow me away, but it was still good overall including the park, the scenery and the animals. When it comes to the vocals and performances, they are good overall, including Arnett and Heigl do good overall as the leads and Chan as a good pick for his character with his tone. Stormare does well as the red neck exterminator Gunther, but Moynihan really did well as the mayor as did not realize it was him voicing the character.
This is about 90 minutes long, which is the right length and does not really drag with a good plot for adults to keep them interested while being able to entertain the kids. There are a couple dark scenes in this film which young kids may have a hard time with, but not badly. Overall it, is still a fun time for the entire family, even with a couple of dark scenes. I do not see this film being nominated for best animated feature, but I did not hate it, so I will recommend it as a family viewing at the 2nd run theater.