For the record, Peter Lepeniotis' 2014 original toon, "The Nut Job", was not a good film. It was mildly entertaining for children but duller than dull for accompanying adults. The problem is, that it only cost $42 million to produce and earned $64 million domestically and $120 million worldwide. As we already know, Hollywood isn't in the business of making movies, they are in the business to make money.


Which brings us up to January 23, 2014 and the decision by Open Roads Films to make a sequel...because it made decent money. Lepeniotis was unavailable so that he could film "Gnome Alone", another animated film. Instead Cal Brunker, whose previous directing experience gave us the very forgettable "Escape from Planet Earth" in 2013, was enlisted to helm this wayward ship.

To his credit, he managed to bring back the principles from the first film: Will Arnett as Surly the purple squirrel, Katherine Heigl as the caring Andie squirrel, Maya Rudolph as Precious the dog, and Tom Kenny as Buddy the rat that doesn't even say anything. Added to the cast is Jackie Chan as Mr Feng a ninja mouse with an attitude.


The film picks up where the original left off, the critters had taken over the nut shop and now had a seemingly endless supply of nuts to munch on. They no longer had to forage for food and were growing fat and lazy as a result.


All except Andie who is trying to instill the methods of foraging to the younger critters of the park who constantly have an eye on the other critters in the nut shop. Obviously, things can't stay this way...and they don't. The nut shop blows up from neglect.

Now the critters are left to go back to foraging, which they never liked doing, but until Surly comes up with something big, the other critters will have to make do. Reluctantly, Surly sets out to prove he can still forage and immediately gets caught in a trap.


He escapes with the help of his Buddy and his friends, but the capture reveals a heinous plot by the Mayor (Bobby Moynihan) to convert the park into a unsafe but profitable amusement park. He plans to plow over everything including the critters homes and the critters.


During the search for new food and new digs, Surly encounters some tough street mice led by Mr Feng who doesn't like to be called cute. They don't like the park critters and don't want them infringing on their city territory. Um...


If reading this review is making you sleepy, then seeing the film will put you into a coma. In my unofficial, unscientific survey of the children at the screening I attended, there were a few giggles, but mostly "Zzzzzz". The story is a painful exercise in screenwriting.


There is a "Nut Job 3" slated for production; maybe it will provide the antidote for this truly insufficient film. Maybe it will play well in China because of Jackie Chan!


"The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature" is a 91-minute nap time for anyone watching. The story is dull, the writing is amateurish and only the fairly decent animation barely saves this from being a zero.   -- GEOFF BURTON