The Nut Job Blu-ray Review: Amiable Enough to Entertain the Kiddos

It brings to mind classic Bugs Bunny - alas, none of the characters have quite the personality of Bugs, but then, who does?
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Universal Studios is releasing on Blu-ray and DVD The Nut Job on April 15. The animated film is set in the fictional town of Oakton, which, as far as its wild animal inhabitants are concerned, is in the middle of an extreme food shortage as winter fast approaches.

Surly the Squirrel (Will Arnett) and his mostly mute rat buddy named Buddy march to a different drummer, and are constantly getting in trouble with the rest of the local animals. Surly's latest gaffe has been to inadvertently destroy what little was left of the community's stored food, and as a result he has been permanently exiled from the city park by the animals' ersatz leader, Raccoon (Liam Neeson). As Surly and Buddy comb the harsh and unfriendly city streets they come upon a nut store. Did they hit the jackpot or is there more to the nut store than meets the eye?

Surly is joined in his adventures by a comely squirrel named Andie (Katherine Heigl) and a goofy pug dog named Precious (Maya Rudolph). Raccoon and not-too-bright squirrel Grayson (Brendan Fraser) are less impressed by his antics.

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Andie and Surly form an uneasy alliance

Directed by Peter Lepeniotis and based on his animated short, "Surly Squirrel" (which is included on the Blu-ray), the film has a running time of approximately 86 minutes with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. It looks great on a widescreen high-definition television screen, with bright colors and details popping off the screen. The DTS-HD sound is crisp and clear, in both dialogue and music, and subtitles are available in English SDH, Spanish and French. The film is rated PG for some mild action and rude humor. Bonus features on the Blu-ray include deleted scenes, storyboards, and three featurettes: "The Great Nut Heist," an interview with Will Arnett; "Nuts & Robbers," a teaser for the film; and the award-winning animated short, "Surly Squirrel."

A Canadian/South Korean/American collaboration, The Nut Job also features South Korean one-hit wonder Psy and his viral hit song, "Gangnam Style," in an animated dance sequence over the closing credits. The film was so successful in its opening weekend that a sequel has already been planned, and is scheduled for release on January 15, 2016.

The story is more than a bit frantic, and there are no real break-out characters that make an animated film a classic, but The Nut Job is amiable enough to entertain the kiddos. Whether the adults will be engaged or not depends on how much they like the look of things. And The Nut Job is great to look at - from its retro-inspired style to its bright colors and attention to detail. Especially impressive are the individual hairs on characters and rendered textures like wood and stone. The look of the film, from the styling of the buildings and backgrounds to the whole heist scenario, brings to mind classic Bugs Bunny encounters with the gangsters Rocky and Mugsy. Alas, none of the characters in The Nut Job have quite the personality of Bugs, but then, who does?

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