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The Nut Job

Kurt Jensen
Source: Catholic News Service

Surly, voiced by Will Arnett, and Precious the Pug, voiced by Maya Rudolph, are seen in the animated movie "The Nut Job."
The multilayered plot of "The Nut Job" (Open Road) might confuse smaller children. However, this animated feature's continuous action and theme of the importance of living in community make it both splendidly entertaining and morally appealing.

Not all the humor will please accompanying parents, though. Potty jokes seem to have become an unavoidable ingredient in children's movies, and "The Nut Job" is no exception.

In this case, the flatulence afflicting the hardworking groundhogs who populate the film serves as an unfortunate go-to gag. Still, director and co-writer (with Lorne Cameron) Peter Lepeniotis keeps this aspect of the proceedings reasonably restrained.

Surly the squirrel (voiced by Will Arnett) is a lone operative in a parkland community of critters who rely on Raccoon (voice of Liam Neeson) to supervise their coordinated gathering of the wintertime food supply. When one of Surly's elaborate plans to raid a nut vendor's wagon goes explosively awry and destroys the oak tree holding their food stash, Raccoon and the others ban him from the park.

Forced to fend for himself in a harsh urban landscape dominated by evil rats, Surly comes across a nut shop he regards as his holy grail. But his find raises a moral dilemma: Should he keep the contents of this treasure trove for himself or share it with the others?

Though Surly makes the right choice, all is not what it seems. The store turns out to be a front for thieves who are tunneling into the bank next door.

Raccoon, moreover, is not the benevolent leader he initially appears to be. Rather, he's an Orwellian dictator served by lackeys. "Animals are controlled by the amount of food they have," he intones. "It is our job to keep it from them."

Loyalties shift as the animals learn to work together, build a new food supply and ultimately confront the truth. Surly longs for the affection and respect of Andie (voice of Katherine Heigl) and also learns to control Precious, a pug (voice of Maya Rudolph), in order to sneak around the robbers.

With its action set in the 1950s, "The Nut Job" uses coal bins, cars with running boards and electric streetcars with overhead wires to create a nostalgic atmosphere grown-ups of a certain age will likely appreciate.

The film contains some intense action scenes and mild scatological humor. The Catholic News Service classification is A-I—general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG—parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

Kurt Jensen is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.

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Francesco Antonio Fasani: Born in Lucera (southeast Italy), Francesco entered the Conventual Franciscans in 1695. After his ordination 10 years later, he taught philosophy to younger friars, served as guardian of his friary and later became provincial. When his term of office ended, Francesco became master of novices and finally pastor in his hometown. 
<p>In his various ministries, he was loving, devout and penitential. He was a sought-after confessor and preacher. One witness at the canonical hearings regarding Francesco’s holiness testified, "In his preaching he spoke in a familiar way, filled as he was with the love of God and neighbor; fired by the Spirit, he made use of the words and deed of Holy Scripture, stirring his listeners and moving them to do penance." Francesco showed himself a loyal friend of the poor, never hesitating to seek from benefactors what was needed. </p><p>At his death in Lucera, children ran through the streets and cried out, "The saint is dead! The saint is dead!" Francesco was canonized in 1986.</p> American Catholic Blog Even in the innocence and devotion of my dog, I see a reminder from heaven to stay simple and devout! I call our funny little canine “a smile from heaven” because God uses him to make us laugh every single day, no matter what else is going on in our lives. Everywhere I look, it seems that God is sending me coded messages.


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