This is nut a good movie.
The Nut Job 2 is one of those rare examples in which the sequel is technically better than the original, but it’s still not a compliment. The bar was lowered so far the first time that even a squirrel could have reached it.
The original The Nut Job starred Will Arnett as Surly Squirrel, a squirrel who was admittedly quite surly, but who was also trapped in a bizarre and contradictory social commentary about the importance of sharing and the dangers of socialism. The film ended with every one of the animals at a metropolitan park benefiting from Surly’s latest scam, which gave every little furry creature an equal share in a lifetime supply of nuts. The end. Roll the credits sequence in which all the animals dance “Gangnam Style” with an animated version of PSY, in a truly desperate and instantly dated bid to look hip, now, and/or wow.
Like many sequels before it, The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature hits the reset button as soon as possible, robbing Surly and his pals of their hard-earned hoard and forcing them back to the park to scavenge for their lives. Unfortunately, the park is now being bulldozed to make way for “Liberty Land,” a new amusement park owned by the city’s corrupt Mayor (Bobby Moynihan), who hates animals and spoils his bratty and equally despicable daughter, Heather (Isabela Moner).
There is a long and storied history of cute little animals inflicting vengeance against mean ol’ humans, so in the spirit of Bugs Bunny and Pom Poko, Surly leads a rebellion against the mayor, destroying both his property and his plans. First Surly gains the upper hand, then the Mayor does, then Surly gets it back. Rinse and repeat and throw in an army of kung fu mice led by Jackie Chan, because everybody loves Jackie Chan, and you’ve got something vaguely resembling a movie.
Unlike the first film, The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature doesn’t sabotage its own message at every turn. The corrupt government is bad, people need to stick together to protect their interests, it all falls together pretty neatly. It’s a very straightforward film, which makes it easier to watch than the first one, but it’s still not particularly funny, it’s still not particularly interesting, and despite a last-minute attempt to wring some real pathos out of a character who didn’t seem worth caring about until it was WAY too late, it’s not particularly emotionally involving either.