The Nut Job squirrels itself away on Blu-ray with a 2D edition that presents this animated movie as well as can be expected. The animation itself is fairly good, although not at the level viewers might expect from the latest Pixar or Dreamworks offerings. The movie is sadly not that pleasant of an experience, featuring a fairly unlikeable central character and precious little in the way of a redeeming storyline. Watching the movie in 2D actually makes clear that many shots have been designed for 3D, which may be a more worthwhile experience. As it is, The Nut Job is not a particularly interesting or rewarding use of one’s movie night with the family.
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Run Time: 1 Hr. 26 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copy, UltraViolet
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 04/15/2014
The Nut Job almost feels like a bad joke on the family. Ostensibly a kid-friendly animated comedy about the animals in an urban park, the movie is actually a somewhat edgy piece that probably deserves a PG-13 rather than the straight PG it holds. Somehow, this movie did very well when released in January of this year, but I’d attribute that to the lack of competing content and the fact that viewers had already seen Frozen by that time. The Nut Job adapts and expands the story of a short animated movie from 2005 called Surly Squirrel, a story about an anti-social squirrel named Surly who causes trouble for himself and the other animals. In the new movie, Surly’s attempt to steal food for himself results in a disastrous accident in the park and his banishment to the wilderness of the city. (There’s actually a nice irony in the notion of the city being considered wilderness and the formerly wooded park being considered the civilized area, but such subtleties are few and far between in this movie.) The bulk of the movie concerns Surly’s plan to mastermind a gigantic nut heist from a mobster’s storefront. Naturally, this heist winds up involving the animals from the park and various power shifts and life lessons occur. Theoretically, there could be a nice family movie therein. But sadly, there isn’t.
The Production Rating: 1.5/5
To begin with, the characters are mostly unlikable, especially Surly himself. It’s as though someone reimagined Snake Plissken as a hopefully kid-friendly character without thinking about what that character really is. To compensate, the writers then offer up villain characters who are even less friendly than Surly, such as the mobster behind the storefront, the vicious rats or even the authority figure animals from the park. Occasionally we’re presented with a more sympathetic character, such as the ostensible love interest girl squirrel and the eventually friendly dog from the storefront. But most of these characters don’t really strike one as appropriate for a PG or lighter family outing. Then there’s the nature of the story, which presents Surly as a fairly reprehensible character before banishing him into the wilderness of the city. But after a couple of vignettes, the movie forgets this idea and has the park animals involved in the heist. Even if the viewer can keep up with the changing premises, the climax then presents an impossible scenario where one must imagine that the city park must be a massive place indeed rather than the small area of green we’ve previously seen for the first hour of the movie. There’s a very slight moral here – that everyone needs help to survive and that it’s better to be selfless than selfish – but even that really comes across as an afterthought. The movie’s real thrust seems to be a series of comic vignettes for Surly that make use of 3D effects and hopefully provide some laughs. Watching the movie in 2D, I can only say that the latter idea only works fitfully.
The Nut Job was released last month on both 3D and 2D Blu-ray. The 2D Blu-ray includes the movie in high definition picture and sound (albeit at a lower bitrate than I’d expect) and a handful of special features. The Blu-ray also includes the DVD edition in the packaging, along with instructions for downloading a digital copy.
The Nut Job is presented in a 1.85:1 1080p AVC encode (@ an average 27 mbps) that presents the movie in 2D, showing plenty of detail when it is available. This is not cutting edge animation by any means, but it’s more than acceptable. The places where things get a little less defined are clearly moments where a 3D pop-out effect would be present if the viewer had that version of the movie. This certainly isn’t top of the line animation but it does show the viewer how far we’ve come for even an ordinary animation.
Video Rating: 4/5 3D Rating: NA
The Nut Job has an English DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix (@ an average 2.0 mbps), which is fairly clear on the dialogue and the backing music. At the same time, there’s not a lot of oomph to this mix, which may be explained by the lower bitrate. Viewers will be able to understand everything that is being said and even have some fun with the sound effects, but this isn’t a mix that really impresses. The best moments in the mix, frankly, are the interpolations of “Gangnam Style”, including for the end credits.
Audio Rating: 3.5/5
The Nut Job comes with a small handful of bonus features, including some deleted scene material, a tiny featurette and the original short animated movie.
Special Features Rating: 2/5
Deleted Scenes – (5:20, 1080p) (EXCLUSIVE TO BLU-RAY) – A little more than 5 minutes of deleted scenes and scene extensions are presented here. They are not presented individually, so the viewer must wade through all of them in a “Play All” mode as the only option.
Storyboards – (2:42, 1080p) (EXCLUSIVE TO BLU-RAY) – One sequence involving a confrontation between Surly and the “hero squirrel” is presented here in the form of its storyboards.
The Great Nut Heist (2:06, 1080p) (EXCLUSIVE TO BLU-RAY) – This is a “blink and you miss it” featurette with some quick soundbites from Will Arnett and a few glimpses of the cast at the voiceover recording sessions.
End Credits Dance-Off – (3:45, 1080p) (EXCLUSIVE TO BLU-RAY) – The end credits sequence, featuring “Gangnam Style” and an animated Psy leading the dance, is presented separately here.
Animated Shorts: – (AVAILABLE BOTH ON BLU-RAY AND DVD) –
Surly Squirrel – (10:52, 480p) – This is the original 2005 short animated film made by director Peter Lepeniotis, featuring the Surly Squirrel character.
Nuts & Robbers – (4:22, 1080p) – This is a teaser animation for the movie, released online by Toonbox Entertainment in 2013.
DVD – The Blu-ray packaging includes the DVD edition of the movie, presenting it in standard definition with a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix (@448 kbps), and including the two animated shorts as special features. A “Previews” menu is also on the DVD, holding trailers for Despicable Me, Despicable Me 2, Hop, The Lorax, Coraline and ParaNorman.
Digital/Ultraviolet Copy – The packaging has an insert that contains instructions for downloading a digital or ultraviolet copy of the movie.
Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish for the film itself, as well as for the special features. A standard chapter menu is included for quick reference.
The Nut Job gets the best presentation it can on Blu-ray, but the movie may not be one that appeals to many families. It’s frankly inexplicable that the movie pulled in the numbers it did in January of this year, but clearly someone was entertained by it.
Overall Rating: 1.5/5
Reviewed By: Kevin EK
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