Office Christmas Party
Another reminder that allowing your cast to madly improvise instead of actually providing a coherent script with a scintilla of inherent logic often leads to…
To offset the arrival of "The Nut Job", an underwhelming 3-D animated adventure, let us take a moment to praise the "Ice Age" franchise and its acorn-addict star attraction that is a likely inspiration for this strained exercise in fur-bearing tomfoolery: Scrat, that sublime creature of Sisyphean single-mindedness.
He covets his nut. He worships his nut. He puts his life on the line again and again to save his nut as it repeatedly rolls just out of reach. His actions speak so loud—along with his manic screeching—he doesn't even have to utter a word to connect with the audience. As a result of a simple yet durable premise and an abundance of animal magnetism, this saber-tooth squirrel-rat has risen to the recognizable ranks of such cartoon icons as Wile E. Coyote and Mickey Mouse.
Too bad that the makers of "The Nut Job" eagerly purloined Scrat's primal motivation—food—but failed to note the charm of his minimalist approach. Instead, the main character in this Canadian-South Korean-American production is Surly, a selfish purple squirrel (voiced with off-putting abrasiveness by Will Arnett), who quickly becomes mired in a heist-driven plot that defies logic and hardly goes anywhere.
Surly, who refuses to be a team player by helping out his fellow park-dwelling critters as they forage for sustenance before winter comes ("I'm no hero," he proudly proclaims), is involved in accidentally destroying what little they have stockpiled inside a massive oak tree. Raccoon, the seemingly avuncular leader of the urban woodland community who speaks with the sonorous tones of Liam Neeson, clearly has pawed through a copy of "Animal Farm"; he banishes handy scapegoat Surly and forces him to fend for himself in the streets of the bustling town while solidifying his own status.