Squirrels are sort of like bees — always busy and always working.
But there apparently are exceptions. Take, for example, the purple squirrel everyone calls Surly. He doesn’t work, and he has no intention of starting.
That’s because he recently stumbled upon a lifetime stockpile of nuts in the basement of an abandoned building.
Instead of climbing trees and crisscrossing electric wires, Surly (Will Arnett) spends his days playing games and gorging on nuts with his squirrel friends.
“This is the life – literally doing nothing,” he says. “Remember when we had to work for these things?”
Then one day, an explosion rocks the Nut Shop, instantly evaporating their food.
Where will they find nuts now?! His female squirrel friend Andie (Katherine Heigl) has an idea: They’ll find nuts in the city park. Yet evil Mayor Muldoon (Bobby Moynihan) has other plans for that natural wonder. City parks are pointless because they don’t provide revenue, he tells his associates. He’ll raze the trees and turn that land into an amusement work. Liberty Park will become … Libertyland! Who needs trees when you can ride roller coasters?
Surly, though, isn’t giving up, and he vows to keep the mayor from destroying the squirrels’ home.
The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature opens this weekend. Here are five things parents should know:
Warning: minor spoilers!
1. It’s surprisingly good. This year has seen its share of sub-par animated movies — The Emoji Movie, The Boss Baby and Smurfs: The Lost Village come to mind – but The Nut Job 2 had both my 9-year-old and me laughing throughout it. Granted, it’s not as entertaining as any of the Despicable Me movies, but it’s worth the price of admission.
2. It has a great lesson about hard work. The movie opens with Surly bragging about his laziness and Andie extolling the virtues of work. “Hard work always pays off,” she says. “… ‘Easy’ doesn’t build character. ‘Easy’ doesn’t last.” Surly, though, isn’t buying it. He wants to sleep late. He wants handouts. Soon, though, he experiences the joy and necessity of work. Proverbs 13:4 tell us: “Lazy people want much but get little, but those who work hard will prosper.” Isn’t it great when movies mirror what Scripture already says? The Nut Job 2 also provides lessons on generosity, self-sacrifice and teamwork.
3. The violence and disturbing content isn’t too bad. It’s rated PG for “action and some rude humor,” and the violence stays mostly in the cartoonish Coyote-and-the-Road Runner realm. Remember: The squirrels are trying to stop a construction crew from clearing their land. This means they resort to violence: wrecking bulldozers, tossing bees in tractor cabs, and destroying the construction crew’s trailer. Later in the movie, they also try and destroy the amusement park. The mayor’s over-the-top antics make it seem OK, but some of the squirrels’ actions troubled me. I guess that’s a good topic for a post-movie discussion, huh?
4. It’s mostly fine for small kids. There’s no sexuality (although a male dog drools at a female dog) and no language (except for a couple of examples of “jeez”). Even the potty humor is minimal! (But I’ve got to warn you: One scene played for laughs involves a male dog regurgitating his food to try and impress a female dog. It wasn’t funny.)
5. The mayor’s daughter is a brat. Quite literally. She pitches a fit when she doesn’t get cotton candy. She pitches a fit when the newspaper photographers don’t take her picture. And at home, she requires her dog to play dead before she gives him food (she pretends to shoot him). She even takes the heads off all her dolls. Of course, her father is a bad dude, too. But I could have used a little less of her.
Family-friendly rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.
The Nut Job 2 is rated PG for action and some rude humor.
— Michael Foust