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Animation: 'The Nut Job' is full of crunchy goodness

Edited by GreenReaper
Your rating: None Average: 4.3 (6 votes)

'The Nut Job' poster On January 24, my sister Sherry took me in my wheelchair to see The Nut Job at the Pacific Theatres 18-Plex at the Glendale Americana at Brand “shopping community”.

The movie was released on January 17, and for over a week I had been reading reviews on animation-community websites that were uniformly negative. They did not just pan it, they hysterically reviled it. Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 12% favorable professional rating:

Hampered by an unlikable central character and source material stretched too thin to cover its brief running time, The Nut Job will provoke an allergic reaction in all but the least demanding moviegoers. (RT critic consensus)

“Anyone who doubts the truth of the bromide that January is the time studios trot out films that would otherwise be unreleasable should take a look at The Nut Job, a CG feature that has all the originality and individuality of a Dixie Cup,” begins Charles Solomon’s review on Animation Scoop. “[…] Numerous, predictable contretemps ensue […] the storytelling is simply inept […] The animation is unimpressive at best. […] The Nut Job was made in Canada and Korea, reportedly in association with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of the Republic of Korea - probably because sitting through the film makes the 12-hour flying time between Los Angeles and Seoul seem brief.”

Conversely, the box office of The Nut Job has been good – fortunately, or I would have wondered whether the critics were talking about the same feature that I saw.

Rotten Tomatoes’ audience rating is 49%. “It was a great weekend for subpar family CG films starring animals,” reported Amid Amidi on the Cartoon Brew on January 19.

Peter LepeniotisThe Nut Job, the first animated film released by Open Road Films, the new distribution company launched by AMC Theatres and Regal Entertainment Group, opened in third place with a robust $20.6 million (estimated). […] No one had anticipated the film performing so well, especially after its poor reception with both critics and audiences. […] As it stands, The Nut Job is on track to become the highest-grossing Open Road film yet, and a sure sign that they’ll be releasing more second-rate animated films in the future.

Amidi’s prediction was borne out when it was announced on Cartoon Brew on the 23rd that The Nut Job 2 has been greenlit for production, with its release tentatively scheduled for January 15, 2016.


The Nut Job is set in the fictional city of Oakton; location not specified, but somewhere expecting a harsh winter since the local wildlife is worrying about starving when the late-autumn pickings are not enough to support them through winter. “WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!” screams a panicky mouse. The animals, under the leadership of Raccoon in the town park, are ordered to search for food and to expect strict rationing during winter – all except purple Surly Squirrel and his mute rat buddy, Buddy. Surly is an arrogant loner who boasts that he is only looking out for Number 1, which does not make him popular with the other animals.

Surly and Buddy try to rob a roasted peanut cart, successfully until Precious the pug tears a nitrogen tube loose, jetting the cart across the park and into the animals’ central tree, where it explodes, destroying what little food the animals have saved. Raccoon blames Surly and orders him banished – apparently inexplicably, until you consider that Raccoon’s true goal is not to help the other animals but to rule them. He is using the destruction of their food as an excuse to get rid of the one animal who will not accept his leadership. He assigns the leadership of the food-finding mission to Andie, an orange girl squirrel who is uneasy about the railroading of Surly, and to the incredibly self-centered but dim gray squirrel Grayson, who is convinced that Andie is in love with him, and that he is responsible for what little success Surly has had.

Surly, wallowing in self-pity, and Buddy find a treasure-trove of nuts in Maury’s Nut Shop, an old business (est. 1891) that is apparently out of business and closed. The audience knows that it has been bought as a front by bank robbers, who plan to tunnel in from it to the bank next door. Precious is a dog from the pound that the robbers have adopted to help their disguise; they do not really care for her. The movie relates the mishaps between Surly and Buddy; Andie who likes Surly but is devoted to the other animals’ welfare; the narcissistic Grayson's accidentally fouling everybody up; Raccoon’s second gang of the fall-guy ultra-nearsighted Mole and Jimmy & Johnny the groundhog bruisers, whom he tells to get rid of Surly who he accuses of stealing from the animals; and the four robbers – King the leader, Lucky, a human Jimmy, and Fingers the gunman -- who feud among themselves.

Events escalate to Precious switching to Surly's side, the unmasking of Raccoon, the apparent deaths of Surly and Raccoon, and the arrival of the nuts that Surly had rescued to the other animals, which Grayson takes credit for. Andie is on hand when Surly revives, and she is about to reveal that he is the real hero, but he says that would ruin his tough-guy image and he would rather help as an unseen secret hero. (The viewer really has to watch all through the closing credits and the final coda.)


The Nut Job does not pretend to be original. Director and co-writer Peter Lepeniotis first created it as Surly Squirrel, a 10-minute, 55-second independent film in 2005. It was successful enough that he was able to get the backing to turn it into this 2014 86-minute feature. The production companies are a consortium of Gulfstream Pictures in Hollywood (financing), ToonBox Entertainment in Toronto (animation), Red Rover Co. International in Seoul (co-financier), and a plethora of other financiers and animation studios in South Korea organized by Red Rover; and distributed in the U.S. by Open Road Films. Three of the South Korean sponsors are the Korea Venture Investment Corporation, the Korean Small and Medium Business Administration, and the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism of the Republic of Korea. This may explain why, in the movie’s closing credits, all the characters plus an animated Psy, the popular South Korean musician-dancer, break into “Gangnam Style”. The feature is co-written by Lepeniotis and Lorne Cameron, who wrote Pixar’s Ratatouille and co-wrote DreamWorks’ Over the Hedge.

It is intriguing to compare the almost-11-minute Surly Squirrel and the 86-minute The Nut Job. In Surly Squirrel, Surly and Buddy are never out for anyone but themselves; Raccoon is not a villain; Buddy has a large speaking role; there is no love interest; the pigeons have a much larger role; and the bank robbers are lookalikes with no individual personalities. To expand the short into a feature, a love interest and more supporting characters were added; the robbers were given individual roles and personalities; Surly’s unsympathetic personality was made more family-friendly; and he was given a more deliberate villain to oppose.


Okay, The Nut Job is not a perfect film – but so what? Why pick on it? Animated kids’ films are usually full of plot holes, but the critics ignore them. How many animated features in the last few years have had plots of naïve protagonists discovering that their childhood heroes or apparent heroes are really the villains? Pixar’s Up, DreamWorks’ Turbo, Sony’s Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, Disney’s Frozen? At least Raccoon looks suspicious from the beginning.

Are the squirrels too obviously color-coded? Why doesn’t Buddy talk except for a couple of words at the end, to show that he could’ve talked all along if he’d wanted to? Why do the modern bank robbers need Fingers, a stereotypical 19th-century shootist? Why do the bank robbers feel that they need Precious the pug to improve their disguise? When and why do the sinister feral rats become Raccoon’s cannon-fodder henchmen; and is Raccoon's real lieutenant, the big red cardinal, any more than an Angry Birds gag? Is Surly’s conversion from self-centered egoist to caring-for-others philanthropist not sufficiently convincing?

I could list as many questions and inconsistencies in animated classics that nobody has complained about. In Disney’s Pinocchio, how come Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket can walk along the ocean bottom for hours to look for Monstro the whale, but Pinoke quickly drowns on the surface while escaping? In Beauty and the Beast, Beauty ties her horse to the Beast’s palace gate before going in, and apparently forgets about taking care of him for weeks or months until she is ready to leave.

Does Buddy look too much like Remi in Ratatouille? But Ratatouille was released in June 2007, and Surly Squirrel in August 2005. Ah, but the producers could have changed Buddy’s design into a ripoff of Remi’s. Yeah, but look at Surly Squirrel for yourselves, and consider that one of the points of expanding the short into a feature was to have more money to upgrade the CGI design – like, to add fur. Also, computer graphics have gotten a lot more sophisticated between 2005 and 2013. It's hard to keep one realistic unclothed rat from looking very much like another.

Practically all of the complaints made about The Nut Job are things that only animation experts and devotees will notice, not the average family audience. Turn off your nitpick compiler and just enjoy a fine Furry movie.

P.S.: On its second week out, The Nut Job was again #3 in the Top Ten, grossing $12,101,118 more for a total of $40,056,363 as of January 28.

P.P.S.: On its third week out, it has only fallen to 4th place in the Top Ten, making $7,278,450 more for a total box office gross of $49,911,445 to date.

P.P.P.S.: The fourth week: The LEGO Movie and the live-action The Monuments Men and Vampire Academy have knocked The Nut Job down from fourth to eight place, but it’s still in the box office Top Ten. It grossed $3,753,080 more for a total to date of $55,025,744. It’s just about to pass Free Birds, Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole, and Escape from Planet Earth. Its budget of $42,800,000 has been surpassed, and it’s all gravy from here on. And this is not counting the international grosses and the eventual DVD sales. Not bad for a movie that the vast majority of the critics panned savagely.

P.P.P.P.S.: Week 5: The Nut Job is finally out of the Top Ten grossers of the week – it fell to #15 – but it still made $1,838,887 more, for a total to date of $58,839,503. It has passed up Free Birds, Legends of the Guardians, and Escape from Planet Earth, and is now almost even with Surf’s Up’s $58,867,694. (Thanks for the information, Box Office Mojo.)

Dum-de-dum-de-dum. I wonder how many weekly updates I can add before Flayrah finally posts my review?

P.P.P.P.P.S.: Week 6. The Nut Job has fallen from #15 to #16. It grossed another $1,066,564 for a total to date of $59,906,067. Surf's Up has been passed, and Happy Feet 2 at $64,006,466 is the next target.

Well! With a glancing putdown of The Nut Job, Cartoon Brew announces Yellowbird, a new French anthropomorphic animated feature that may come to the U.S. later this year. This appears to be one of several foreign anthro animated features to compete for the honor of being "the Ernest et Célestine of 2014", designed by the director of Ernest et Célestine. It sounds and looks encouraging.


Your rating: None Average: 3.7 (3 votes)

Movie critics often abuse "Critique" (Attacking the purpose of something instead of finding lacks for the purpose - abuse critique) these days. They go for things like: "I think the idea is stupid" "I hate designs" "IT'S NOT LIKE THE OLD SHOWS" "This kids movie is a kids movie, dumb" "It's not pixar enough", etc..... then tell the public about it. >.>

I didn't see the movie but it did look good on the trailer.

I would suggest that people should ignore what others think about a movie and it should be up to the viewer instead.
RT is a terrible source anyway. I go for IMDB because it's based on actual, customer experiencing. Then again, I don't put my trust on it (I decide).

Heh, the only time I take a "review" so seriously I think is for stuff that's meant to make something work, such as a "Tool" or something. :D

Your rating: None Average: 4 (2 votes)

Yeah, I was shocked by how good this movie was too; I just went to it to review it for Flayrah, when, bam, good movie ... also, ironically, not reviewing now that Fred has, but I'll add that the Surly was an interesting protagonist (if Surly is "unlikeable," then "likeable" must have a lesser known secondary definition of "boring"), inspired slapstick gags, really cute character design, and an interesting premise. That last one is important; seeing as how this Sunday, AMPAS is about the give a Best Animated Feature Oscar to "Disney Princess Movie That Tries to Pretend Its NOT A Disney Princess Movie (But Still Is)" for the second year in a row, funny animal heist parody seems like a Godsend.

About the one thing Fred didn't cover was the fart jokes, which, there were two; one seemed a bit gratuitious, like it was thrown in there because out of lack of confidence, but another was actually more about the characters (the gophers won't stop even though no one else finds it funny in the movie; it was a scene less about "ha ha, it's funny, they farted" and more about "this is what the gophers are like to work with") and it built up to an actual punchline.

Also, I have not heard a group of children react this well to an animated movie in ages; this is a kid's movie, and the kids loved it, laughing the entire time. Can't say the same for ... just about anything else that's come out animation wise recently.

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The critics have made a lot about how one of the major flaws of "The Nut Job" is that it has an unlikeable main character. Any movie with an unlikeable central character is committing suicide.

Who is probably the most unlikeable central character of all time? Ebenezer Scrooge is certainly in the running. Would you say that any dramatization of "A Christmas Carol" is doomed to failure?

This is a slightly unfair comparison because Charles Dickens spelled out how to do it right, and "The Nut Job" never really explains why Surly Squirrel suddenly decides to switch from being obnoxiously self-centered to a secret philanthropist of the other animals who just pretends to be obnoxiously self-centered. But all of the critics' putdown of Surly for being so obviously hissable have ignored Ebenezer Scrooge. "A Christmas Carol" should have proved that it can be done.

Yeah, I could have done without the more obvious fart joke, too.

Fred Patten

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I think a more apt comparison might be Han Solo, who has a more comparable story arc (though, admittedly not the protagonist of his movies), right down to the mute sidekick. If anything, Solo's arc was much more "and now I'm totally a good guy, guys!" than Surly's.

Surly seems like a character who prides himself on his "outsider" status, but who, until he is exiled at the end of the first act, never actually been "outside" his community. His arc is learning the value of that community to him, now that he is no longer a part of it. He still retains part of the "outsider" mentality in the end, but he has a better understanding of what that means.

The scene where he realizes Precious has been following his orders even though he was not threatening ... (uh, I actually never figured out Precious's gender; I was gonna research that) Precious with the dog whistle was pretty good character moment.

What I liked about this movie is that, as I've said before, it's about a character, and that character has a believable arc.

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While I probably shouldn't comment on gender, I challenge you to listen to the voice in the last video above and tell me Precious isn't female. (Besides, it makes comedic sense for the physically weak guys to be up against a strong girl.)

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Precious' gender should be obvious from her female voice artist.

Also from her name "Precious", but not necessarily. There is the very male ladybug in Pixar's "A Bug's Life".

Also, in "Jonathan" by Russell O'Neil (which I sent Flayrah my review of on April 30, 2013, AND IT HASN'T BEEN POSTED YET!), the girl scriptwriter on a Western movie set complains about the replacing of the movie star's mare with a stallion (the audience might notice), and the producer says something like, "Anyone who goes to see a Western to tell the sex of the cowboy's horses is a menace to society!" Also again, I remember the San Diego Comic-Con just after "All Dogs Go to Heaven" was released when someone (it was Shawn Keller, but nobody was supposed to admit they knew) cruised the hall in an excellent Charlie the Dog costume (a full-body Fursuit, but the word Fursuit hadn't been coined yet) as an unclothed German Shepherd, that was Anatomically Correct.

Fred Patten

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Yeah, that was the "research" I meant; however, might as well continue on the list of "women as men" acting:

- I believe the gorilla Rosie O'Donnell was playing in Tarzan was supposed to be male. Correct me if I'm wrong.

- As an anime fan, Fred's probably aware of hundreds of instances of boy children voiced by female actors (to avoid headaches when a real child hits puberty between seasons or even episodes), both in the original and the dubs; off the top of my head, I know Black Star from the Soul Eater dub is a boy character with a female voice actor, and I really don't know much about anime outside of that, though.

- Fitting in the "little boy voiced by an adult woman" vein is Spike, by Cathy Weseluck, in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.

- In live action movies, Linda Hunt won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress playing a male character in The Year of Living Dangerously; she's a very short woman, and was picked for the part because of that on top of her acting ability (the part was based on a real person who was also very short).

- The most frequent long distance to medium shot body double for any of the hobbits in the Lord of the Rings trilogy was a woman.

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I don't think that this is really pertinent. Yes, many animated juvenile males have been voiced by adult women, in both Japanese and American animation. But Precious in "The Nut Job", it seems to me, was always clearly presented through both the name "Precious" and the obvious female voice as a girl dog (a bitch, to get technical).

I would have to see the movie again to see if Precious is ever identified clearly as "him" or "her". Naturally, the animated depiction of Precious does not show any even vague gender characteristics. (I remember a TV news report of an aggressive male squirrel attacking people that was illustrated with a stock closeup photograph of an obviously female squirrel.)

Fred Patten

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I think I was mostly confused because of a. the role in the story Precious plays (comic relief) is usually a male role and b. the ladybug thing you mentioned; it felt like it was part of the gag (ha, ha, the dumb crooks gave the guy dog a girl name). I guess pugs aren't a particularly feminine breed, but they aren't a particularly masculine breed, either. I suppose they could be stereotypically associated with female owners.

I just bring up the trivia because I like bringing up trivia; I wasn't trying to explain my confusion.

I have not real problem admitting I would probably never notice the stock squirrel's gender; I remember the surprise reveal that the dog's name, "Sam," was short for "Samantha" being just about the only thing I liked about I Am Legend (though I can't adequately explain why).

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If it counts for anything, the character bio on the movie's official website uses female pronouns for Precious.

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"I remember the San Diego Comic-Con just after "All Dogs Go to Heaven" was released when someone (it was Shawn Keller, but nobody was supposed to admit they knew) cruised the hall in an excellent Charlie the Dog costume (a full-body Fursuit, but the word Fursuit hadn't been coined yet) as an unclothed German Shepherd, that was Anatomically Correct."

Whoah... how did that happen? i'm curious for... science...

How did someone get a full fursuit made anatomically correct in the early 90s. And did it have furry balls? How did that go over, and how did the wearer get into that then make the "Horrifying look at the furries" comic?

I have a good friend whose voice work is best known for an animated ad campaign mascot, that gets special fans on the internets. She laughs about what happens with unfiltered google search. Its a total joy to work with her and she does a scratchy boy voice that will be useful for a project i'm casting now.

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Yarst! I don't remember that much. "All Dogs Go to Heaven" came out in November 1989, so this must have been the 1990 Comic-Con. Robert King says that he coined the word "fursuit" just after the 1993 ConFurence.

I have never been interested in fursuit making or wearing, so I didn't ask for details. It was an excellent fursuit, which didn't surprise any of the furry fans at the Comic-Con because Shawn Keller was well-known for making excellent fursuits. He had one of Kimba the White Lion, and I think that he made or participated in the making of a fursuit of Jerry Collins' Bambioid for Bob Hill. At the time, the ConFurences had just started and had not been taken over by the fursuiters yet. Keller was practically the only fan who made & wore them.

I don't remember whether the suit had furry balls or not, but it had an obvious furry penis that was discreet but notable once you noticed it. In fact, the penis was what gave away that it was a homemade fursuit rather than a leftover promotional mascot costume from the movie's publicity, which most of us thought at first. You noticed first that it was Charlie, the anthro German Shepherd from "All Dogs Go to Heaven", and it wasn't until you took a closer look at the detail that you noticed the doggy penis.

Keller was a well-known furry fan and apparently as deep into furry fanac as it was possible to get. Everyone was dumbfounded when he & Dave Kuhn produced that "horrifying look at the furries" comic book (which wasn't just exaggerated, some of it was deliberately falsified), and abruptly dropped out of the fandom.

Fred Patten

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I always find it interesting to hear bits and pieces of furry history, especially some of the more well-known folks that were a part of it (or are still a part of it). I remember first hearing about Shawn Keller through his webpage with the Cheshire Cat host, and of course that comic of his. Interesting to hear that he wasn't always bitter and... well, crude in his depictions of stuff although that fursuit you described seems like it could be.

Yeah, sometimes people just abruptly dropping out of the fandom or changing their opinion on it is fairly shocking - especially knowing how so many people threaten to leave the fandom or do so before returning; shocking that some people actually DO leave furry permanately :P

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Now that you mention it, does anyone know where Shawn Keller is today? Are he and Dave Kuhn still together?

Fred Patten

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I have not heard nor seen anything of Sean Keller in quite some time. Dave Kuhn is now head of the Animation Department at the Laguna Canyon College of Art and Design. He wants nothing to do with furry fandom. In fact he tries to steer his students away from it if they get curious. He said as much to me in an e-mail when I invited him to speak at CaliFur.

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I read a very minor mention somewhere about SK freelance creating character models for Second Life (yes still anthro work) in more recent times. That is sad but not unusual to hear about DK moving away- I do suggest keeping activities apart if needed for professional work because the world just isn't that open minded. It's fun to have a "fight club" type thing that keeps it DIY anyways. It means this stuff won't be a trendy product any time soon, leaving it more free to be a subculture on it's own terms.

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Ummm... no. Just... no. I have never, never ever felt any compulsion or reason to hide my participation in furry fandom (or any OTHER fandom) from my co-workers or my superiors. It is part of what makes me ME. I'm not a closeted bisexual; there's no way on the Goddess' green Earth I'm gonna be a closeted furry fan.

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I teach students putting together portfolios and trying to get jobs. There's a lot of reasons why a lot of people never do anything with art degrees. When they go asking people to consider them, they can try 100 times before getting one chance. You aren't your profession and it's possible to enjoy things outside of work though. If that's a closet, I guess this is the same as a fetish haha... well it is to some, but you don't have to share with people who will do their own interpretation if it doesn't suit you.

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omg... I must have a photo of this! I've been googling for half an hour and I can't find anything except this news post v.v It sounds like Keller became a total tool unfortunately : <

If anyone has a photo, please post!

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I have no idea where you could see that one... but here's a different treat ;)

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Duh! Hasn't anyone remembered the Grinch?

Fred Patten

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The story is nothing to write home to Mom about, and the dialogue is painfully dumb in more than a few places. But I sat watching this thing with my jaw hanging open. I have never, in all my born days, seen an animated funny animal movie with so many CLOSE UPS! And big, screen-filling close-ups, where you can see every little nuance of the fur texture and the facial rig. This won't be a spoiler if you've seen the film: There's a scene (one of many) where Surly is being glum. He thunks his head down on a parapet. Buddy comes over and tries to cheer his friend up, thunking HIS head down. He smiles at Surly. Surly grumps. Buddy smiles bigger. Surly offers him the teeniest of smiles, just a little twitch of one cheek -- and you SEE it, clearly. For furry fans or animation geeks, this movie is simply beautiful. Just watch it with the sound turned off. Or, with your brain turned off. Either works.

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That scene you highlighted between Surly and Buddy is indeed one of the better moments in the film.

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Oh yeah, that was one of the few scenes I really really enjoyed :)

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I've posted this opinion on other forums, but I forgave The Nut Job for its faults that I would not easily allow for a non-furry movie. The selling points were the character designs (my favorite aspect), voice cast, and animation (which some were quick to point out as below Pixar-level quality, but I did not think it was bad to single it out as an issue).

I counted more than just a couple fart jokes, maybe 5 to 6 + some burps (and yes, I was counting, because it is such a lazy attempt to get easy laughs... in one instance it worked on me, I will admit). And with a title like "The Nut Job" I was expecting some overt humor on testicle jokes (in a PG-rated context). Of that I do not recall any references at all, but some film reviewers said they were there. Perhaps a re-watch will reveal innuendos that I missed.

The biggest facepalm moment is easily the "Gangnam Style" end-credits. A pop-culture nod to the South Korean studio that participated in creating the film, but it is waaaaaaaay past the expiration date to be referencing it in a 2014 movie.

I did not read the reviews before going in and guessed the "Tomatometer" to be between a low 30 to 40%, apparently that was being more generous than most critics. I think the recent Free Birds even got a higher critic score.

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Criticizing "The Nut Job" or any other non-Pixar CGI movie for not measuring up to Pixar's quality is like holding up all Democratic and Republican presidential candidates to George Washington or Abraham Lincoln and putting them down for not measuring up. For that matter, how many critics have put down Disney's "Planes" for not coming up to Pixar's quality? Be honest; how many of you would have known that "Planes" was not a Pixar film if the critics had not told you?

Fred Patten

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I found the movie to be terribly written, although the animation was decent and the animals were all very cute. Overall I think rather than producing this as a movie it would have benefited as a half-hour cartoon episode, some of the cheesier (in some cases, lamer) jokes would have fit better in that environment.

When I went to see this movie I had hoped there would be some hidden gems of adult-humor stashed away within the script, I mean on the surface this movie reminded me of that underappreciated cgi movie Over The Hedge... boy was I disappointed. The animation was cute (and who wouldn't enjoy the similarity of Buddy to the Ratatouille rats)... and that's as far as I'll go for compliments.
The characters were very two-dimensional (in some cases one-dimensional), the names just didn't seem to click (as I said, this felt more like a stretched out afternoon cartoon), the voice acting felt too forced (Oh gawd did I learn to despise Greyson by the end) not to mention for an animated movie... quite a few non-voiced characters even in the inner circle. Even parts of the plot that sounded interesting got no depth - such as Raccoon's grip on the park community. It all just felt very very dumbed down, even some kids in the showing I attended voiced some complaints by the end.

It's probably just me, but I felt this movie could have been fantastic if it was a bit darker. Spoilers follow of course...

It would never happen but killing off some of the characters would have made this so much better. Right at the beginning letting Greyson die in the fire would have set up Surly as looking much more villainous and saddled him with some deep guilt issues, the Angry-Birds rip-off? I would have let him perish in that cat scenario, Mole looked pretty villainous when he almost drowned the gophers... why did they just gloss over attempted murder by the end? He seemed to fit as a kind of Peter Pettigrew type character. Surly should have gotten a bit of a show trial which ended with his banishment then of course Raccoon needed to have a little more than a glimpse into his dictatorial control of the park, make it a little more sinister than just wanting shinies... which didn't quite add up for me (did other animals want his shinies which led to needing control?).
This call for a darker film may seem completely uncalled for but they did leave Raccoon in a seemingly death-sentence position by the end of the regular movie so it's not like it would completely out of left-field. eh... just my tastes I guess, though would be a lot better than the numbingly terrible writing of the movie :P

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Reminding you of "Over the Hedge" was probably because "The Nut Job" was co-written by Lorne Cameron, the co-writer of "Over the Hedge".

Fred Patten

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Hmm I heard about the Over the Hedge thing because a plot was a little similar, or the cgi was.

More outside of reply:

Though while it is probably, that doesn't feel like a rip-off, if it's just a waaay general plot, or just a similar style (With the story within it being pretty new, as a whole, even if some parts were used from other movies) or something.

Example: Is a movie about two people kissing a rip-off because the idea of that was used? Is it a rip-off if it looked like anime? No, unless maybe the story, the settings, etc was all the same...

The "This is a Rip-off!" claims was so bad that one time, I saw a person calling a movie a rip-off, just because the plot was like Toy Story 2 (Away from home, then back home)..... what the fuck?!
Can't remember what movie (It could of been this one), but wow, that's like calling everything a knock-off.
Edit: It might of been Alpha and Omega because it was one of those "Away from homes, then returning back" things, I think.

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I am bemused by all of the movies that the critics dismiss as rip-offs that came out before the movies that they are accused of being rip-offs of. The Russian/Armenian CGI movie about anthropomorphized airplanes that is supposed to be an obvious rip-off of Disney's "Planes" was released theatrically in Moscow a full year before "Planes" came out. That could be a rip-off because "Planes" was so long in production (and the animation was subcontracted out to Prana in Mumbai, India, so the story was not a secret) that another studio could have rushed out a rip-off fast; but it is certainly not proven. The Russian "The Snow Queen" that is supposed to be an obvious rip-off of Disney's "Frozen" came out in Russia and several other countries months before "Frozen" was released. Of course, all that took was the news that Disney was working on an adaptation of Andersen's famous 1845 story, and anyone could do their own adaptation of "The Snow Queen". And Buddy in "The Nut Job" is a rip-off of Remi from "Ratatouille". Ho-hum.

Fred Patten

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Of course, some foreign movies under consideration may not have started as rip-offs or "mockbusters," but are often marketed in a way that to make them appear more like popular American movies.

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I have actually just commented on one of these on my weekly animation column for Cartoon Research:

"I was recently asked what I knew about Blue Sky Studios’ 'Robots 2'? I answered that no sequels were ever made to Blue Sky’s 2005 animated movie, and as far as I knew, none were planned. In reply, I was sent this trailer on YouTube:

Robots 2 trailer

Duh! Well, from the credits it appears to be an unauthorized sequel made in Thailand for release in India during 2012, with an obviously American voice cast. Being a Thai production would explain why it was never mentioned by 'Animation Xpress' [which covers Indian animation only]. Judging by this trailer, it has absolutely nothing to do with Blue Sky’s 'Robots', or the 'Ramayana'. In fact, considering the title of 'Yak, the Giant King' buried in this trailer, I suspected that the Thai studio never made it as a sequel to 'Robots', and the tie-in was created by the Indian distributor.

Apparently so. Wikipedia says that 'Yak, the Giant King' was an October 2012 release by Workpoint Pictures, a studio in a city near Bangkok, for distribution in Thailand, India and Malaysia. I can believe that the Thai animators may have been inspired by the robot character design in Blue Sky’s feature. 'Yak, the Giant King' is technically a version of the 'Ramayana' set in the future with a cast of robots. Yak is a renamed Tosakan, an enemy of Hanuman, the Monkey God. The CGI does look very professional, and the American-voiced trailer implies that someone tried to sell it to an American distributer. I would like to see it. Thanks, Wikipedia, for clarifying this for me.

Yak, the Giant King Thai theatrical poster

Fred Patten

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"The Russian/Armenian CGI movie about anthropomorphized airplanes that is supposed to be an obvious rip-off of Disney's "Planes" was released theatrically in Moscow a full year before "Planes" came out. That could be a rip-off because "Planes" was so long in production (and the animation was subcontracted out to Prana in Mumbai, India, so the story was not a secret) that another studio could have rushed out a rip-off fast; but it is certainly not proven."

I'm not sure if I was reading right but I don't think it would make it a "rip-off" to the user who didn't think it was because he figured something more different about the production of it. I mean no matter how it could of been made, it's still just the same old movie He/She watched. :)

To me, a rip-off is if everything was pretty much the same or slightly (But as a whole, still felt it in the whole order.)

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To almost everyone, a rip-off is something deliberately made in imitation of something earlier without acknowledging the original, and especially something intended to deceive a buyer into believing that it is the earlier work. Like the DVD marketing of the Canadian "The Legend of Sarila" as "Frozen Land" in a package superficially like Disney's "Frozen". The DVD packaging of the English-language version of the Russian/Armenian "Ot vinta 3D" as "Wings" is certainly a rip-off of Disney's "Planes", but to call the movie itself a rip-off of "Planes" when it was theatrically released a whole year before "Planes" came out, by professional movie critics who should know the difference, seems recklessly sloppy. In the case of "The Nut Job", calling the rat Buddy who originally appeared in the 2005 "Surly Squirrel" a rip-off of Remi in the 2007 "Ratatouille" is pretty unbelievable except to people who do not know that Buddy goes back before "Ratatouille".

A new "Godzilla" movie, say, is obviously based on the original "Godzilla", but is not a rip-off if it doesn't pretend to be an original concept. How many "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" movies have there been? Or James Bond movies?

Fred Patten

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"Rip-off" could have to do with getting something from before, yes but the way of "how the person" does it seems really weird and non-sense, and the fact that even if the guy 100 % never knew of the existence, the result is still similar no-matter what. Like to people, it shouldn't really depend what, and how it's made, but if it looked similar or not.
If we had to use it this way, then (If you look at "Everything is a Remix" by Kirby1 on Youtube), so many movies secretly lacked the acknowledging idea, meaning every movie in the world is pretty much a knock-off from somewhere else, but it's just that we are so used to it.
The need to feel that when yet, there are people like me who could enjoy a so-called "rip-off" just because how similar and purposeful a movie or song seems really sad.

Here is a very well example on why people should not matter the lack of knowledge or not:
We had a very well movie called "Comp-heads The Virus", everyone enjoyed it, but then 5 years later, people figured out that it was based off an old movie (Perhaps in the Public Domain), though now people enjoy both. Is "Comp-heads The Virus" a rip-off? Does it need to be avoided just because of how it was made in the first place? Lion King had the same story I heard but now "Kimba The White Lion" and "Lion King" seems both enjoyed as there own, even being similar in parts. OK, maybe that's not a good example but still.

For the rat thing, people need to be aware that everything we have now has bits, and bits copied already, including characters. I can be aware of the rat that time, but I can still enjoy them as different people no matter how similar or if it was inspired or even not..... just like a pixel used in art.
I can totally understand what you mean, but are you saying Remi is a rip-off of Surly Squirrel?

For your last part, yeah the guy knows he is basing off the movie, but it seems strange to use "rip-off" and use it in negative terms by people just because there wasn't an acknowledging act (If they never used it) when yet, the whole movie is pretty much good for a sequel still anyway, and the whole story is different.
People have used the term "rip-off" over many things new and ignoring the fact that we already been doing that in our culture for thousands of years now.

Which is why I always hate people calling "copying" parts a "knock-off" when yet, that's just ridiculous, it's self because we already do that.

Yeah it's a long response but I been really concern about how people react to things like this. And people been using that term over many kinds of things that shouldn't really have the term with.
If you meant rip-off only if it includes lying about original, I could agree, I think. :)

"Edit: We could just call everything a rip-off if it can just include copying and similarity, but it shouldn't be used as a bad thing, or 100 % exact when it's slightly changed..."

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No, I think that I said that one animation unclothed "realistic" rat will pretty much look like any other unclothed rat. They are not all rip-offs of the first animation unclothed rat (whatever that was), whether they acknowledge the earlier ones or not.

Fred Patten

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Oh, well, let's say if it was based on un-realistic animation, where the "original" looked "unique" one time, but then people copied it (Mainly being interested/inspired), then it became a gen, like how anime, stop-motion, anthropomorphism, etc. did.
Would you then think it's a "knock-off"?
Got to remember that even stuff we are used to isn't just realistic. Stuff that was originally consider original/new was completely used-to now but not a rip-off because people know people can enjoy similar stuff based on "original" styles.
I just think people shouldn't call these uses a rip-off either. xD

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So...from this, and the trailer...what I'm getting is it's a revamped Over the Hedge pretending it's not Over the Hedge. Oh, and "Gangnam Style" is in it for some reason.

(I might still see it because I can't resist cute rodents, but....yknow.)

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I've seen both "Over the Hedge" and "The Nut Job". While there are some similarities, "The Nut Job" has enough originality that you can't dismiss it as just another "Over the Hedge" with superficial changes.

Fred Patten

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This wasn't furry enough even for a Newsbyte, but its superficially pertinent to this story and also completely hilarious: How the queen of England foiled her own personal “nut job”.

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The French release of "The Nut Job" translates literally as "Operation: Nutcracker".

Fred Patten

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I'm curious that The Nut Job 2 is only a little over a month away from its theater date and yet nothing has been released to promote it? Even Kung Fu Panda 3 and Norm of the North (also releasing in January) has trailers/websites.

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About the author

Fred Pattenread storiescontact (login required)

a retired former librarian from North Hollywood, California, interested in general anthropomorphics