Film Review: THE NUT JOB 2: NUTTY NY NATURE (USA 2017) ***

the_nut_job_2.jpgFollowing the events of the first film, Surly and his friends must stop Oakton City’s mayor from destroying their home to make way for a dysfunctional amusement park.

Director: Cal Brunker
Writers: Bob Barlen, Cal Brunker
Stars: Will Arnett, Katherine Heigl, Maya Rudolph

Review by Gilbert Seah 

The sequel to THE NUT JOB delivers much more of the same with the coloured squirrels and other rodent park animals, led by Sury and his rat sidekick Buddy, voiced by mostly the same actors.

Surly (Will Arnett) and the park animals must band together to prevent Oakton City’s crooked mayor (Bobby Moynihan) from bulldozing Liberty Park and replacing it with a dangerous amusement park. Surly even gets help from the territorial street mouse gang leader Mr. Feng (Jackie Chan) into thwarting the mayor’s plot.
The sequel introduces three new and welcome characters that provide most of the film’s freshness and humour. These are Bobby Moynihan as the Mayor of Oakton City, Isabela Moner as Heather, the mayor’s spoiled daughter and Jackie Chan as Mr. Feng. Credit should also definitely go to the animators of these three creatures.

When Mr. Feng, the white mouse first appears in the film, speaking with a strong Chinese impression, the immediate thought that will come to mind is racism. Society has progressed a far way since Mickey Rooney could get away doing really awful and unacceptable Japanese impressions with fake teeth in Blake Edwards’ BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S. But the credits list Jackie Chan as the voice behind Mr. Feng, and Chan does speak that way with a strong Hong Kong accent. The animators are also smart enough to make sure all he mice characters including Mr. Feng have really round and no slanted eyes.

THE NUT JOB films are the lower breed of animated films after films like SHREK, MADAGASCAR, HAPPY FEET, KUNG FU PANDA, HOW TO SAVE YOUR DRAGON, MEATBALLS. The NUT JOB films are have nothing really new to offer. Despite a few relatively new ideas (such as the mice and Mr. Fend who refuse to be cute – a sort of direct attack at cutest animated characters), parents will find the whole enterprise a chore to watch while children will undoubtedly be entertained.
Though the film is listed as an American production, there is a lot of Asian input (especially in the animation) as mentioned in the closing credits. Not only that but two asian companies are credited as with producing credits at the start of the film.

THE NUTJOB films are modest productions. The first cost only $42 million to make and went on to gross $120 million thus green lighting a sequel. The original director, a Canadian Peter Lepeniotis who based the first film on characters he created in his short was supposed to co-write the sequel but his name is missing from the list. Number 2 is co-written by Cal Brunker
Bob Barlen andScott Bindley.

The closing credits in the first THE NUT JOB film featuring an animated version of South Korean rapper Psi performing “Gangam Style” dancing with the park rodents were so irresistible that almost the entire audience stayed to the end. This was indeed a difficult act to follow and the rap sequence the closing credits of NUT JOB 2 unfortunately emptied the theatre in no time, thus allowing almost everyone to miss a last sequence of animation that appears once the closing credits rolled over.


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