The Nut Job
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Peter Lepeniotis
Produced by
  • Graham Moloy
  • Woo-Kyung Jung
Screenplay by
  • Peter Lepeniotis
  • Lorne Cameron
Story by Peter Lepeniotis
Based on Surly Squirrel

by Peter Lepeniotis

  • Will Arnett
  • Brendan Fraser
  • Gabriel Iglesias
  • Liam Neeson
  • Katherine Heigl
Music by Paul Intson
Edited by Paul Hunter

Production company

  • Red Rover International[1]
  • ToonBox Entertainment[1]
  • Gulfstream Pictures[1]
  • Kocca Communications
  • Brown Bag Films (uncredited)
Distributed by Open Road Films
Entertainment Partners
Toonbox Home Video

Release date

  • January 11, 2014 (Los Angeles)
  • January 17, 2014 (US & Canada)
  • January 29, 2014 (South Korea)

Running time

86 minutes[2][3]
Country Canada

South Korea[4][5]
United States[6]

Language English
Budget $43 million[4]
Box office $120.9 million[7]

The Nut Job is a 2014 3D com­puter-an­i­mated heist-com­edy film di­rected by Peter Lep­e­ni­o­tis, who also wrote the film with Lorne Cameron. It stars the voices of Will Ar­nett, Bren­dan Fraser, Gabriel Igle­sias, Jeff Dun­ham, Liam Nee­son and Kather­ine Heigl. Stephen Lang, Maya Rudolph and Sarah Gadon also star in sup­port­ing roles. The film is based on Lep­e­ni­o­tis' 2005 short an­i­mated film Surly Squirrel.[8] Pro­duced by Gulf­stream Pic­tures, Re­drover In­ter­na­tional and Toon­Box En­ter­tain­ment,[9] it was re­leased in the United States on Jan­u­ary 17, 2014, by Open Road Films.[10] With a bud­get of $43 mil­lion, it is the most ex­pen­sive an­i­mated film co-pro­duced in South Korea.[4] The film grossed $64.3 mil­lion in North Amer­ica, for a world­wide total of $120.9 mil­lion.

A se­quel ti­tled The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Na­ture was re­leased on Au­gust 11, 2017.

Plot Edit

In the fic­tional town of Oak­ton City,[2] a pur­ple squir­rel named Surly (Will Ar­nett) and his mute rat part­ner Buddy re­side in Lib­erty Park where their thiev­ing rep­u­ta­tion has made them out­casts. A group of urban an­i­mals led by Rac­coon (Liam Nee­son) and his car­di­nal as­sis­tant are run­ning low on food for win­ter. Red squir­rel Andie (Kather­ine Heigl) and glory hog­ging gray squir­rel Grayson (Bren­dan Fraser) com­pete with Surly and Buddy to scav­enge from a peanut  manned by Lucky (Scott Yaphe) and Fin­gers (James Rankin) who are cas­ing a bank. The squir­rels' ef­forts in­ad­ver­tently end with the cart's propane tank ex­plod­ing in the park after its cord was bit­ten by Fin­gers' pug Pre­cious (Maya Rudolph). The run­away cart ends up de­stroy­ing and burn­ing the tree, where the an­i­mals store their food. Surly is ban­ished and Buddy fol­lows him.

In the city, they find Maury's Nut Shop. Ad­ja­cent to the bank, it is a crim­i­nal hide­out used by Lucky, Fin­gers, their boss Percy "King" Dim­ple­weed (Stephen Lang) and Knuck­les, who plan to break through the wall and re­place the bank's cash with nuts. King's girl­friend Lana (Sarah Gadon) be­lieves King has gone straight and the nut store is le­git­i­mate.

Rac­coon sends Andie and Grayson to the city to find food, but they get sep­a­rated when a street rat ap­proaches them. Andie re­cov­ers Fin­gers' dog whis­tle, which Knuck­les threw out and Surly had used against Pre­cious, and threat­ens to dis­pose of it if Surly does not share the nuts he is going to take. Surly ac­cepts and un­wit­tingly be­friends Pre­cious after threat­en­ing her with the whis­tle. Andie in­forms the park com­mu­nity of the plan. Rac­coon re­luc­tantly goes with the plan and as­signs Mole (Jeff Dun­ham) and the Bruis­ers to go with her. Surly even­tu­ally learns from Mole that Rac­coon's pol­icy is to con­trol the food sup­ply in  to con­trol the an­i­mals, and that Rac­coon plans on sab­o­tag­ing the nut bo­nanza. When Andie does not be­lieve him, Surly leaves after Grayson re­unites with them.

After fend­ing off street rats who work for Rac­coon, Surly and Grayson chase the crim­i­nal gang's get­away truck, which car­ries Rac­coon and the other an­i­mals. Surly fights off Car­di­nal, and Mole de­fects from Rac­coon and re­veals the truth to the an­i­mals, re­sult­ing in Rac­coon being voted out of the park com­mu­nity. King and Knuck­les use the dy­na­mite in­side the empty truck to blow up a po­lice bar­ri­cade at a dam, but the po­lice shoots the tire on the truck that falls from the dam. It ex­plodes after Surly gets him­self and Andie off it, and they fall into the river below. Surly makes it to a log, but finds out that Rac­coon, King and Knuck­les sur­vived the ex­plo­sion. Rac­coon tries to kill Surly, but the nuts' weight be­gins to break the log. The an­i­mals ar­rive to res­cue them, but Surly, de­cid­ing to be self­less in order to pro­tect his friends, lets go of the log and falls into the wa­ter­fall with Rac­coon. The park com­mu­nity now sees the good side of Surly, and mourns him.

The nuts make their way to Lib­erty Park. King and his as­so­ci­ates are ar­rested as Lana breaks up with King. Andie and Buddy are still mourn­ing over Surly, and when Pre­cious learns what hap­pened, she has Buddy come look at an un­con­scious Surly near the river. Dole­ful to see Surly life­less, Buddy says his first two words: "best friend". Surly wakes up and hugs Buddy. Af­ter­ward, Pre­cious leaves to meet Lana, who plans to run Maury's Nut Shop. Find­ing Surly alive, Andie em­braces him and sug­gests to tell the other an­i­mals of his hero­ism. How­ever, Surly de­clines, yet gains a will­ing­ness to work with oth­ers, and goes into the city with Buddy, al­low­ing Grayson to take credit for the nuts mak­ing it to the park.

Dur­ing the cred­its, the an­i­mals and hu­mans dance with an an­i­mated Psy as he per­forms "Gang­nam Style". In a mid-cred­its scene, Rac­coon and Car­di­nal are shown to have sur­vived their or­deal and are sulk­ing on a har­bor buoy sur­rounded by sharks while com­ing up with an­other plan. In a post-cred­its scene, Pre­cious chases Mole to get the bone he is hold­ing that she wants and he dri­ves her away with the dog whis­tle.

Cast Edit

  • Will Arnett as Surly, a purple squirrel.[2]
  • Brendan Fraser as Grayson, a glory-hogging squirrel who has a false reputation for being the "park hero".[2]
  • Gabriel Iglesias as Jimmy, a groundhog and the leader of the Bruisers.[11][12]
  • Jeff Dunham as Mole, a mole who works for Raccoon and has eyes that are sensitive to light.
  • Liam Neeson as Raccoon, a raccoon and the self-proclaimed, power-hungry, deceitful con-artist and leader of the park who banishes Surly from the same park. Raccoon's also known for his thirst for Surly's blood which later in the film terrorizes Andie due to her affections for Surly.[2][13]
  • Katherine Heigl as Andie, a compassionate and beautiful squirrel who eventually becomes Surly's .
  • Stephen Lang as Percy "King" Dimpleweed, a mob boss.
  • Maya Rudolph as Precious, a pug that is owned by Lucky and later Lana.
  • Sarah Gadon as Lana, King's girlfriend later ex-girlfriend.
  • James Rankin as Fingers, King's fellow criminal who helps Lucky run "Maury's Nut Shop".
  • Scott Yaphe as Lucky, the owner of the peanut cart, who is Precious' owner and King's associate.
  • Joe Pingue as Johnny, a groundhog and a member of the Bruisers.
  • Annick Obonsawin as Jamie, a small female groundhog and a member of the Bruisers.
  • Julie Lemieux as a girl scout that tries to buy nuts from Fingers and Lucky's nut cart.
  • Robert Tinkler as Buddy, a rat and Surly's mute and incompetent partner-in-crime who does not talk much
    • Robert Tinkler also voices Redline, a blue mouse who idolizes Grayson and whose catchphrase is "We're all gonna die!".
  • James Kee voices an armored truck guard
    • James Kee also voices a street rat.
  • Scott McCord as a police officer who tries to get Fingers and Lucky to show him a permit for their nut vending.
    • Scott McCord also provides the voices of miscellaneous animals.
  • Katie Griffin as a park pigeon

Production Edit

On Jan­u­ary 17, 2011, it was an­nounced that Lorne Cameron would write the screen­play for the film, along with Peter Lep­e­ni­o­tis.[14] On No­vem­ber 15, 2012, it was an­nounced that Kather­ine Heigl, Will Ar­nett and Bren­dan Fraser had joined the cast of the film,[15] and on March 1, 2013, it was an­nounced that Liam Nee­son has also joined.[16] On De­cem­ber 19, 2013, it was an­nounced that South Ko­rean en­ter­tainer PSY makes a cameo ap­pear­ance as him­self dur­ing the film's end­ing cred­its, which also fea­ture his hit song "Gang­nam Style".[4]

The film's pro­duc­tion art was fea­tured in a Bramp­ton, On­tario ex­hibit.[17]

Release Edit

Ha Hoe-jin, CEO of Red Rover (middle left), and Park Geun-hye, the then president of South Korea (middle right), at the South Korean premiere of the film.

The film was re­leased in the United States on Jan­u­ary 17, 2014, and dis­trib­uted by Open Road Films.[18] In­ter­na­tional dis­tri­b­u­tion was han­dled by The We­in­stein Com­pany.[19] The first teaser trailer for the film was re­leased on Sep­tem­ber 27, 2013.[20] The film had its pre­miere at a Regal Cin­e­mas the­ater in Los An­ge­les on Jan­u­ary 11, 2014.[21]

Home media Edit

The Nut Job was re­leased on DVD and Blu-ray on April 15, 2014, by Uni­ver­sal Pic­tures Home En­ter­tain­ment and Image Entertainment and on VHS on May 14, 2014 by Toonbox Home Video.[22]

Reception Edit

Critical response Edit

On re­view ag­gre­ga­tor web­site Rot­ten Toma­toes, the film has an ap­proval rat­ing of 11%, based on 90 re­views, and an av­er­age score of 3.9/10. The site's crit­i­cal con­sen­sus reads, "Ham­pered by an un­lik­able cen­tral char­ac­ter and source ma­te­r­ial stretched too thin to cover its brief run­ning time, The Nut Job will pro­voke an al­ler­gic re­ac­tion in all but the least de­mand­ing moviegoers."[23] On Meta­critic, which cal­cu­lates a nor­mal­ized rat­ing from re­views, the film has an av­er­age weighted score of 37 out of 100, based on 28 crit­ics, in­di­cat­ing "gen­er­ally un­fa­vor­able reviews".[24] Au­di­ences polled by Cin­e­maS­core gave the film a "B" grade, on an A+ to F scale.[25]

Peter De­bruge of Va­ri­ety wrote, "The Nut Job comes up short com­pared with a film like Rata­touille, which, de­spite its less-than-adorable ro­dents, won au­di­ences over through ap­peal­ing voice­work and writing."[5] Alonso Du­ralde of The Wrap wrote, "The Nut Job is merely shrill and fran­tic, chock-full of unin­spired char­ac­ters and te­dious wackiness."[26] Michael Recht­shaf­fen of The Hol­ly­wood Re­porter wrote, "A whim­si­cal pe­riod set­ting helps this 3D an­i­mated caper es­cape some overly fa­mil­iar trappings."[1] Bill Goodykoontz of The Ari­zona Re­pub­lic wrote, "Ar­nett is a great comedic actor, an acidic wit. But here his Surly is just a self­ish jerk. If there weren't some re­demp­tion in­volved, this wouldn't be a by-the-num­bers an­i­mated fea­ture. But it is, and there is, and it is wholly predictable."[27] Linda Barnard of the Toronto Star gave the film two out of four stars, say­ing, "If The Nut Job fails to con­nect through its char­ac­ters it de­serves praise for being a vi­su­ally in­spired ef­fort, with clear homage paid to 1950s an­i­ma­tion styles, es­pe­cially Warner Bros. classics."[28] Chris Cabin of Slant Mag­a­zine gave the film one out of four stars, say­ing, "There's no per­son­al­ity in the de­sign or the script, which only ren­ders the cyn­i­cal af­ter­taste of this con­vo­luted one-squir­rel-against the-world story all the more potent."[29] Jor­dan Hoff­man of the New York Daily News gave the film two out of five stars, say­ing, "The car­toon is stuffed with ex­haust­ing vi­sual may­hem. Some jokes land, but most kids over 10 will roll their eyes."[30]

Joe Williams of the St. Louis Post-Dis­patch gave the film one and a half stars out of four, say­ing, "The bur­nished back­grounds are pleas­ant to look at, but find­ing some­thing to savor in the story is a tough nut to crack."[31] Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tri­bune gave the film one out of four stars, say­ing, "The Nut Job fights its pro­tag­o­nist's own charm­less­ness from the first scene. Turn­ing a dis­lik­able lead­ing char­ac­ter a lit­tle less dis­lik­able by the end cred­its sets an aw­fully low bar for this sort of thing."[32] Rafer Guz­man of News­day gave the film one and a half stars out of four, say­ing, "The over­all mood re­sem­bles a furry, nut-based ver­sion of Stan­ley Kubrick's The Killing."[33]Peter Hart­laub of the San Fran­cisco Chron­i­cle gave the film two out of four stars, say­ing, "Some­one spent a lot of time mak­ing the ar­chi­tec­ture and pro­duc­tion de­sign match the era. Grand­par­ents get­ting dragged to The Nut Job will be appreciative."[34] Annlee Elling­son of the Los An­ge­les Times wrote, "The Nut Job fea­tures de­cent CG an­i­ma­tion, es­pe­cially of an­i­mals, but the writ­ing isn't par­tic­u­larly clever, re­ly­ing on ob­vi­ous puns and slap­stick humor."[35] Stephanie Merry of The Wash­ing­ton Post gave the film two out of five stars, say­ing, "That feel­ing of been-there-done-that is per­va­sive, with many of the jokes sound­ing like they were ripped off from other movies."[36] Kevin Mc­Far­land of The A.V. Club gave the film an F, say­ing, "The most egre­gious prob­lem with The Nut Job is how shame­lessly it fills in the gaps left by ex­pand­ing Lep­e­ni­o­tis’ short with generic and te­dious rogue-to-hero cliché."[37] Lou Lu­menick of the New York Post gave the film two and a half stars out of four, say­ing, "The small-town set­ting of a half-cen­tury ago is beau­ti­fully an­i­mated by di­rec­tor Peter Lep­eno­tis and his team, and there are some nicely staged old-school ac­tion sequences."[38]

Scott Bowles of USA Today gave the film one and a half stars out of four, say­ing, "When the story gets stale, the movie in­serts a 'nuts' pun or, worse, re­sorts to a gas or burp joke. It doesn't work the first time, nor the fifth."[39] Miriam Bale of The New York Times wrote, "The Nut Job fea­tures muddy-col­ored and often ugly an­i­ma­tion, a plot that feels too stretched out and loaded with de­tails to hold the at­ten­tion of most chil­dren, and more flat­u­lence jokes than any­one deserves."[40] Adam Nay­man of The Globe and Mail gave the film two out of four stars, say­ing, "Only a mul­ti­level chase se­quence in­volv­ing Surly and some glow­ing-eyed street rats has any real ki­netic ex­cite­ment, and the sup­port­ing char­ac­ters lack vi­sual distinction."[41] Bill Zwecker of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film two and a half stars out of four, say­ing, "The bot­tom line: Kids may be mildly amused by The Nut Job, but adults ac­com­pa­ny­ing them won't find much to cap­ture their interest."[42] Kim­ber­ley Jones of The Austin Chron­i­cle gave the film two out of five stars, say­ing, "The richly hued CG an­i­ma­tion is quite nice – a mix of hy­per­de­tailed char­ac­ter work and painterly cityscapes and pas­torals – and the script put­ters along with small but reg­u­lar amusements."[43] Tom Russo of The Boston Globe gave the film one and a half stars out of four, say­ing, "The plot doesn’t take clever turns, the vi­sual thrills aren’t all that thrilling, and you’re ul­ti­mately left to get your heist-movie kicks elsewhere."[44] Joel Arnold of NPRwrote, "Once Surly and Buddy case the joint, de­velop a plan, and deal with the in­evitable sur­prises, The Nut Job could be any clas­sic caper flick."[45]

Box office Edit

The Nut Job grossed $64,251,541 in North Amer­ica, and $56,633,986 in other coun­tries, for a world­wide total of $120,885,527.[7] In North Amer­ica, the film opened at num­ber three in its first week­end, with $19,423,000, be­hind Ride Along and Lone Sur­vivor.[46] It had the biggest open­ing week­end ever for an indie an­i­mated fea­ture film.[9] In its sec­ond week­end, the film stayed at num­ber three, gross­ing an ad­di­tional $12,101,118.[47] In its third week­end, the film dropped to num­ber four, gross­ing $7,278,450,[48] and in its fourth week­end, the film dropped to num­ber eight, gross­ing $3,753,080.[49]

Awards Edit

The Nut Job won the Au­di­ence Award for Best Chil­dren's An­i­ma­tion at the 2015 Anima: The Brus­sels An­i­ma­tion Film Festival.[50]

The film was nom­i­nated for Best Sound Edit­ing – Fea­ture Film at the 2014 Di­rec­tors Guild of Canada Awards.[51] Paul Hunter won for The Nut Job in the Best Edit­ing in An­i­ma­tion cat­e­gory at the Cana­dian Cin­ema Ed­i­tors Awards.[52]

The French ATAA awarded the film Best Dub­bing Adap­ta­tion for an An­i­mated Film for 2015.[53]

Soundtrack Edit

The film's score was com­posed by Paul Intson. The sound­track was re­leased on Jan­u­ary 17, 2014.[54]

Sequel Edit

Main article: The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature

On Jan­u­ary 23, 2014, The Nut Job 2 was an­nounced, with an ini­tial re­lease date of Jan­u­ary 15, 2016.[55] On April 11, 2016, the re­lease date was pushed back to May 19, 2017.[56] Will Ar­nett, Gabriel Igle­sias, Jeff Dun­ham, Kather­ine Heigl and Maya Rudolph reprised their roles. The film de­tails the park an­i­mals band­ing to­gether to pre­vent a crooked mayor from bull­doz­ing Lib­erty Park and re­plac­ing it with a dan­ger­ous amuse­ment park.[57][58] On May 25, 2016, Heitor Pereira was hired to score the film.[59] On July 5, 2016, Jackie Chan joined the cast as ter­ri­to­r­ial street mouse gang leader Mr. Feng.[60] In De­cem­ber 2016, the film was pushed back to Au­gust 11, 2017.[61]