The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature review: Call pest control

Will Arnett, Katherine Heigl and Jackie Chan are wasted in this superfluous sequel

The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature
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Director: Cal Brunker
Cert: G
Genre: Animation
Starring: Will Arnett, Maya Rudolph, Jackie Chan, Katherine Heigl, Bobby Moynihan, Bobby Cannavale, Isabela Moner, Jeff Dunham, Gabriel Iglesias
Running Time: 1 hr 31 mins

Hey, everybody.  Surly's back. You know? Surly. The wise-cracking, law-dodging squirrel from The Nut Job. No? Don't you remember the closing credits, featuring the movie's animal characters and an animated Psy performing Gangnam Style? But that was the high point.

This entirely superfluous sequel to a 2013 film that barely scraped a profit wastes the not-inconsiderable voice talent that is Will Arnett (BoJack Horseman, The Lego Batman Movie) on an ill-conceived purple vermin who mostly steals and sulks. Like his animal chums, we are expected to worship him and his ludicrous schemes, which always and undeservedly go according to plan. Who knew a squirrel could embody toxic masculinity so effectively?

As The Nut Job 2 opens, Surly and his fellow woodland critics have taken up residency in a closed-down nut shop. His nagging quasi-girlfriend Andie (Katherine Heigl) repeatedly insists that this easy life won't last. Which it doesn't. So the animals – which include a pug (Maya Rudolph) for some reason – return to the city park, only to discover that it's about to be felled by the city mayor, who, for some other reason, is a Good Ol' Boy (Bobby Moynihan).

Sadistic pest controller

There’s a running gag in which Surly crashes into mailboxes. An army of kung-fu fighting white mice (led by Jackie Chan) emerge from Chinatown. A sadistic pest controller (Peter Stormare) chases the animals. So does the mayor’s unhinged and violent young daughter. So does her bulldog – until he falls for the pug. And so on.


The movement and the pratfalls may suffice for very young audiences. But away from these kinetic qualities, the pun-heavy script ("I am a weapon of mouse destruction," offers Jackie Chan's rodent) and the animation is almost as low-rent as one might expect from a film called The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature. Almost. Bring back Psy.

Tara Brady

Tara Brady

Tara Brady, a contributor to The Irish Times, is a writer and film critic