Charmless sequel to a mediocre original, featuring the voices of Will Arnett and Katherine Heigl
Are there really people out there who've been hungering for another fix of The Nut Job? However underwhelming the 2014 original was, its worldwide haul of $120 million shows once again that, regardless of quality, animated animals beget big box office bucks, hence the existence of this equally disappointing follow-up.
It sees Surly Squirrel (Will Arnett) and his friends – including idealistic fellow squirrel Andie (Katherine Heigl) and devoted pug Precious (Maya Rudolph) – rally together to save their beloved park after Oakton City's corrupt Mayor (Bobby Moynihan) decides to bulldoze it to make way for an amusement park. Along the way, Precious strikes up a useful alliance with the Mayor's pet bulldog Frankie (Bobby Cannavale), while Surly receives some unexpected help from kung fu-savvy city mouse Mr Feng (Jackie Chan).
As with the previous movie, Cal Brunker's sequel is a depressingly charmless affair from beginning to end; putting it another way, Oakton City is no Zootropolis. The characters are largely unappealing (Arnett is miscast – his raspy, angry-sounding voice ill-suited to cute critters) and the script relies too heavily on chaotic, uninspired action set to a blaring rock soundtrack, resulting in a likely headache for any dragged-along adults.
Attempts at tear-jerking emotion seem awkward and forced, while the majority of the jokes fall painfully flat. Even running gags – like an overly anxious chipmunk repeatedly shouting, 'WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE!' – backfire, as they quickly become irritating.
There are a couple of moments that rescue this from one-star ignominy, such as an inventive and amusing set-piece involving an army of mice fighting the Mayor's goons by taking the shape of a human in a hazmat suit, and a knowing gag where Surly stops Andie from bursting into song. Come to think of it, if we're factoring in small mercies, at least there's no 'Gangnam Style' this time round.
General release from Fri 11 Aug.