After Ferdinand, a bull with a big heart, is mistaken for a dangerous beast, he is captured and torn from his home. Determined to return to his family, he rallies a misfit team on the ultimate adventure.
Surly and his friends, Buddy, Andie, and Precious, discover that the mayor of Oakton City is cracking one big hustle to build a giant amusement park, which in turn will bulldoze their home. The animals must stop the mayor, his daughter, and a mad animal control officer in order to take back the city park.
Expectations admittedly were not high going into 'The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature'. Didn't think that highly of the first film, while not hating it (a case of great animation and some vocal standouts but very lazy writing), and like with the first film the advertising was not promising at all. Judging from how a number of sequels fare, the point of 'The Nut Job' actually needing a sequel was questioned.
Being a lifelong fan of animation and seeing as there are some good actors in the vocal cast, doubts were cast aside despite not expecting much. So it was a surprise that 'The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature' was much better than expected, actually not being a bad film and better than the advertising made it look, and was an improvement over its predecessor. It may not be a great film and not a film that will go down in history or be remembered for years to come, but it could have been far worse.
'The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature' has a number of strengths. The animation is great, and more polished than the animation in 'The Nut Job'. It's colourful and vibrant-looking, with admirable attention to detail in the expressions (especially with Buddy) and backgrounds and the characters are cute without being cutesy and look more polished in design. The bright and breezy soundtrack is also very catchy, even enhancing what's going on and there is nothing that makes you groan like "Gangnam Style".
On the most part, the voice acting is very good. A bubbly and sassy Maya Rudolph, a ray of sunshine and really makes the film come alive, is the standout, and Jackie Chan was a big surprise. He seemed a bizarre casting choice on paper but he came over as very lively and also gave some verve. Bobby Cannavale is charming and amusing, and while Buddy is largely silent (ah the power of making a character fun and likable through actions and expressions primarily with not so many words) Tom Kenny proves how talented he is and the chemistry between Buddy and Surly gives the film some heart.
Will Arnett and Katherine Heigl are much better than before. Arnett this time doesn't take Surly's surliness to extremes and he doesn't come over as too snarky or smug, voicing with more energy and wit. Heigl tones down the Rom-com cutesiness and does well being the voice of reason. Generally the writing is better. Liked the relatable and relevant messages and how they were dealt with in the film, children and adults alike will appreciate them. Likewise with the homages, recognising them and how they were integrated put a smile on my face, and there were some witty one liners and amusing gags that are generally more tasteful. Oh and the mice are scene stealers.
However, while 'The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature' is tighter paced and there is more of a story it feels too much this time round. The story can feel too busy and rushed, with too much going on and too many characters. This does sacrifice depth to the characters and the subplots, which tend to be underdeveloped. The humour doesn't come off consistently either, needing sharper timing and a less frenetic pace.
Parts did feel tired and are more juvenile than witty. While the humour is more tasteful generally, one gag does come over as vulgar and leaves a bad taste in the mouth involving vomiting out food and eating it up again (not to be viewed while eating).
A few of the characters don't work, especially the hugely irritating Heather voiced in an overbearingly shrill manner by Isabela Moner. The clichéd mayor character annoys more than he intimidates. Gunther is wonderfully voiced by Peter Stormare and he is the fun and menacing character that the mayor should have been, but there are times where the character is at odds with the rest of the film's tone.
Overall, not great but better than expected and better than 'The Nut Job'. 6/10 Bethany Cox
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