The Nut Job
The Nut Job is a 2014 computer-animated feature film produced in by Toonbox Entertainment in Canada and distributed internationally by Open Road Films and The Weinstein Company. The film follows the story of a squirrel named Surly (voiced by Will Arnett), whom after getting thrown out of his home and forced to live in the city, discovers a nut store that could most likely save him and his entire community and plans a big heist to steal all the nuts and candies in the store. The film also features the voices of Liam Neeson, Katherine Heigl, Brendan Fraser, Jeff Dunham, Gabriel Iglesias, Sarah Gadon, Stephan Lang and Maya Rudolph.
The film is based on a 2005 animated short film called "Surly Squirrel" and was released in the USA and Canada on January 17th 2014 and South Korea on January 29th 2014, and would later make various release dates to many other countries, such as August 2014 in the UK and Ireland.
The movie was highly under-appreciated during and even before its release. Many commentators on the official trailer on YouTube and many blogs promoting the trailer used to negatively compare this movie slightly to Over the Hedge, even though coincidentally, Lorne Cameron (who was one of the screenwriters of Over the Hedge) wrote the screenplay to this film as well. They also discarded it as one of those "run-of-the-mill" animated family films that would give feature animation a bad name. When it was released, it was (of course) a major critical failure, with both critics and animation fans alike bashing the script as "disorganized and lazily-written script with a mean-spirited and unfriendly feeling", the characters (mainly the protagonist, Surly) as "unlikeable and obnoxious", the sense of humor as "revolting" and the "unnecessary, out-of-nowhere" cameo of PSY and the song "Gangnam Style" in the end credits. They even debated about the animation, whether it was "decent" or "mediocre and ugly". But even with that, it was however a moderate box-office success, gaining over $64.2 million domestically, earning back its budget of $42 million, and $120 million internationally. A sequel scheduled for August 18, 2017, a television series and a live show have both been announced.
- This film is the first animated feature to be created by Toronto-based animation studio ToonBox Entertainment and its South Korea-based sister company Redrover Co., Ltd. It is also the first film to be produced by ex-Warner Bros. executives Mike Karz and William Bindley's studio Gulfstream Pictures and Pasadena, California-based small business animation studio Duncan Studio, run by ex-Disney animator Ken Duncan. It is also the first animated film to ever be distributed by mini-major American movie distributor Open Road Films.
- The character designs (both the humans and animals) seem to have the influence of Disney, Pixar and Don Bluth, which makes sense, considering how many crew members (especially the director) are also ex-Disney, Pixar and Don Bluth artists and animators. In the deuteragonist character Buddy the Rat's case, this was one of the negative criticisms to the film where Buddy's character design seemed very familiar to the main character Remy from Ratatouille.
- It was announced on December 17th 2013 that South Korean entrepreneur PSY would appear as an animated character in the end credits with the main characters dancing with him to the song "Gangnam Style". This was yet another one of the negative criticisms to the movie, since the cameo was deemed as pointless and unwarned, and the song itself was (at the time of the movie's initial release) a year-and-a-half ahead of its glory.
- Despite the movie's strong under-appreciation from both the critics and animation fans, it did somehow manage to receive over 400,000 likes on its official Facebook page, before the day of its release and over 100,000 more after its release. Scene Magazine movie reviewer and Channel Frederator Network member Stefan Ellison (aka, Mr. Coat) defended the movie, believing it to be a solid start for both a new line of animated films in 2014 (despite the vast majority of animation fans saying the exact opposite) and its production studio ToonBox Entertainment.
- An animated short made by Tirrel has the exact same title, which caused some furry fans to denounce the film as well.
- Director Peter Lepeniotis discussed about and screened the film at the Toronto Animation & Arts International Festival (TAAFI), and revealed that he originally intended the film to be made more for a mature PG-13 audience.
- On August 5th 2016, it was announced that the film would be given a live show. This announcement was negatively-recieved, specifically in the comments of the Cartoon Brew article of the announcement.
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