A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature is the sequel to 2014's The Nut Job. It continues the story of a squad of park animals who must find a new food source when their beloved nut shop burns down. As in the original, there are a few scatological (i.e., burp and fart) jokes, as well as physical comedy gags in which a character is electrocuted, bonked on the head, or otherwise injured in a way that's played for laughs. But some of the human characters use weapons, particularly the gun-toting mayor. A father and daughter are almost sadistic in the way they treat animals, and a child (albeit a violent, unlikable one) is shot with a dart gun. But there's a clear message about the idea of creating your family by choice -- in this case, a community of animals that protect and take care of one another.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In THE NUT JOB 2, Surly (voiced by Will Arnett), Andie (Katherine Heigl), and their gang of animal friends end up losing a secure food supply when their home, the nut shop, burns down due to their own neglect. At first Andie enthusiastically tries to convince the group that they can just scrounge for food in the park, but Will and Buddy (Tom Kenny) try to find easier, more secure food venues. They come up short and soon learn that the greedy town mayor (Bobby Moynihan) is planning to tear down the park and put up a profitable amusement park instead. When the animal squad tries to sabotage the construction, the mayor hires an animal control specialist to hunt them down. Surly, Andie, and their friends must band together with unlikely allies to save their park -- and one another.
Is it any good?
It's not particularly memorable, but this animated sequel will still appeal to younger viewers who have a low bar for entertainment: talking animals, silly jokes, and sight gags. The plot of The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature is slim and unoriginal (and, for that matter, not entirely consistent with the original's ending), but at the very least, there are continued positive themes about teamwork and friendship. Home, these animals believe, isn't about biological instincts to be out in the woods, but rather their commitment to be with one another.
The only good parts are a sweet flashback to how Surly and Buddy became friends and the fact that Jackie Chan voices the leader of a huge crew of adorable white mice with amazing kung fu skills. They're cuddly and wide-eyed -- but never call them "cute," or they will hurt you. Other than that part of the story, when the mice martial artists make themselves known, there's just not a lot to propel the movie beyond the level of mediocrity that parents willingly endure to make their kids happy. But parents -- and kids -- deserve more from family-friendly movies than unnecessary sequels with nothing substantive to contribute or say.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the ongoing popularity of talking-animal movies. Why do you think so many movies like The Nut Job 2 have animal main characters? Which are your favorites?
What's the movie's message about teamwork, friendship, and community? Does it promote any character strengths?
Which parts were scary to you? Why? How much scary stuff can young kids handle?
Do you think there should be another Nut Job sequel? Why or why not?
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