'The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature': You know what I'm saying?
"So much for peaceful protest."
- Surly, squirrel
Currently, this movie sits at a paltry 11% at Rotten Tomatoes, from 47 reviews (not a big number of reviews for a wide release movie). A grand total of five professional reviewers found enough decent in the movie to muster "fresh" ratings there. This 11% percent matches the original's score, though it had double the positive reviews with 10 of its 89 reviews finding something nice to say about it. So, obviously, not the most critically beloved movie franchise ever.
However, I didn't exactly follow the critics' consensus with the first movie, what with giving it a spot on my annual top ten list. Fred liked it too, in his review of the movie for Flayrah. And I won't be agreeing with the critics again for the sequel (you'll have to ask Fred if he's even seen this second one, though).
But, you know what, who cares? I mean, as I write this, the top story on Flayrah Lamar's article on the alt-right, while Equivamp's take is a little bit below it. Who cares if the cartoon squirrel movie is good or not; it's not like it has anything to say about the real world and the things that are happening in it right now.
I'm going to be honest with you, before I watched this movie, I read a mock review on a non-furry website calling "The Nut Job 2 the best political film of the year!" (put that on the poster). While the post was mostly meant facetiously (and was written by someone calling themselves "Goofy Gorilla"), and it certainly is not the best political film of the year, there is something there. It's right there in the poster; apparently I've developed a fetish for film posters featuring anthropomorphic animals flashing ironic peace signs. The hand gesture is a bit trite nowadays, but it is most famous as a counter-cultural anti-war protest symbol.
The movie's villain is a mayor, and this is not the first movie I've reviewed featuring villainous mayors. Or even the second. They're easy politicians for our heroes to topple. But why are politicians always the villains? I mean, it's almost like we don't trust those guys ...
Anyway, this villainous mayor (Bobby Moynihan) wants to bulldoze under the park where Surly (Will Arnett) and his woodland critter friends live. It isn't profitable to the mayor, just sitting there, being a park. No, he wants to turn it into an amusement park, where he can charge people absurd amounts of money to ride his cheaply constructed rides. The woodland critters at first are able to sabotage the bulldozers, but when the mayor calls in professional exterminators, the tide begins to turn against the fauna of the park.
There are various subplots introduced here, as Surly's pug dog friend Precious (Maya Rudolph) is "rescued" by the mayor's daughter (Isabela Moner) which causes Surly and his rat buddy, Buddy (Jean Dujardin), to attempt their own rescue mission. Meanwhile, they meet Mr. Feng (Jackie Chan), the leader of a gang of kung fu mice, who were exiled from a different park across town by the mayor, who turned it into a golf course.
So, just to be clear here, the villain is a real estate businessman turned politician who really likes to golf. Get it? GET IT?
So, is this some sort of hidden propaganda piece, like that post I read on that obscure forum which claimed The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature is in fact a left-leaning call for an open revolution overthrowing our capitalist overlords, which is exactly what Surly decides must be done for the climax? Maybe? I mean, the point of the post I keep vaguely referring to was to parody how easy it is to make these kind of readings, even in dumb kid's cartoons about squirrels. But on the other hand, it's not not a story of a repressed underclass taking the fight to their oppressors.
See, sometimes a movie is about something. Sometimes a movie really wants to seen as about something, even if it really isn't. And sometimes, a movie isn't about anything at all. I think The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature is ultimately the third. There's something in the air right now, if you haven't noticed, and our entertainment, even our most insubstantial, reflects our reality. It isn't a counter-cultural statement; I mean, it may look to be an anti-capitalist screed, if you are looking for that, but it's a multi-million dollar budget CGI cartoon sequel. On one hand, how mainstream capitalism is that?
Of course, on the other, don't the most effective revolutions come from the inside?
Still wavering, aren't I? Oh, well, the real reason I really liked the first movie was because of the great use of slapstick and the wonderful furry character designs of the squirrels, two things a furry reviewer might appreciate more than your mainstream critic. This one has all that, plus a surprisingly great joke about parking out of nowhere, and it even leaves out the fart jokes that marred the first one (I will not pass judgement either way on the absence of Psy's "Gangnam Style", which provides this review's lyrical headline, over the credits as in the first movie). Also, if you want to look at it in a maybe unintended fashion, it's a call to arms. Hey, cult movies are made of these slightly cock-eyed readings. So are revolutions.
As Goofy Gorilla put it:
"Fantastic movie that I am not surprised to see panned by the capitalist press."