Follow TV Tropes


Western Animation / The Nut Job

Go To
Get ready to go nuts!

The Nut Job is a 3D computer-animated film released in the US on January 17, 2014 by Open Road Films and produced by Gulfstream Pictures, Redrover and ToonBox Entertainment. The film stars the voices of Will Arnett, Brendan Fraser with Liam Neeson and Katherine Heigl. The film is based on a short called "Surly Squirrel", which utilizes some of the same characters.

The movie follows the adventures of Surly, a squirrel (who only looks out for himself) who is banished from the park he lives in after he accidentally destroys the other animals' food supply for winter after one of his many thefts goes awry. Forced to survive in the city, he and his rat friend Buddy come across a nut shop and plan a heist of epic proportions, even if it means getting the other park animals to help out before the winter weather arrives. Elsewhere, the owners of the nut shop are planning their own heist: to rob the bank across the street. It's a race against time to see who can pull off their heist first.

Sound familiar?

Although it was critically blasted (it is one of the worst-reviewed animated movies with a paltry 10% Rotten Tomatoes score), its low budget and relatively strong box office returns made the film a big enough success for a sequel to be scheduled for August 11, 2017, called Nutty by Nature.

Another thing: This isn't the only animated film to use the voices of Will Arnett and Liam Neeson to be released within the first two months of 2014.

Tropes from The Nut Job:

  • Action Girl: Andie is the only park dweller who is competent as a hero, especially compared to the ditzy Grayson.
  • Amazing Technicolor Wildlife: Surly, who swings back and forth between bright purple and coal black depending on the lighting.
  • Anachronism Stew: A minor case: a newspaper in the opening scene is dated 1959, but has a mugshot dated 1970
  • Artistic License – Biology: The robbers consistently refer to Surly and the others as rats, even though they're variously squirrels, gophers and a mole. Only Buddy is a rat.
  • Artistic License – Law Enforcement: Part of the robbers' getaway plan was to cross state lines, apparently expecting the police that were hot on their tails to suddenly break off pursuit at that invisible boundary. Police can cross state lines in pursuit of a suspect if the person is suspected of a felony (e.g. robbing a bank); that is the very definition of the term, "Hot Pursuit.”
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Raccoon has a little bit of this in some scenes.
    Raccoon: Shiny!
  • Big Bad Ensemble: King and Raccoon both play the same role within their respective subplots, serving as the leader of their group - the gangsters for King, and the park animals for Raccoon - who secretly plots to double cross the others and hoard all the loot for themselves. They don't interact with or are even aware of each other, but Surly has to confront both at different points during the climax.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Buddy pulls this off when he saves Surly from a gang of bad rats.
  • Big Sister Instinct: Jamie has this for her musclehead brothers Jimmy and Johnny, even though she subverts the trope somewhat by actually being the smallest of the Bruiser siblings.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Raccoon is introduced as a wise leader to the park animals, but is secretly a greedy tyrant who plans to hoard the food to keep the others dependant on him.
  • Brooklyn Rage: Jamie. Also all of the gangsters, but especially Fingers.
  • Buffy Speak: The various things the animals refer to the dog whistle as, which Surly in particular calling it "the thing-a-ma-boobie." Only a couple of times do they actually call it a whistle.
    • When Andie and Grayson encounter a rat in the city, Grayson refers to him as an "urban rodent thing."
  • The Cameo: Psy appears during the end credits to sing his signature song.
  • Character Development: Surly learns to value the notion of community by the end to be a hero.
  • Children Are Cruel: The Girl Scout at the beginning of the movie kicks Fingers in the shin, and can also be seen kicking Psy in the credits.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: King's robbery would've succeeded if he hadn't insisted on doublecrossing Fingers and Lucky at the last minute. Likewise, Knuckles' insistence on trying to kick King when he's down and take all of the money at the waterfall more or less leads directly to his implied Disney Villain Death.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Grayson is said to have suffered a head injury at some point before the film's events, apparently resulting in his hammy, over the top nature in the present. It only worsens when he reemerges in the second half, traumatised after being lost in the city for several days.
  • The Convenient Store Next Door: With the "convenient store" in question being the target of a heist of its own.
  • Comedic Work, Serious Scene: This is a mainly lighthearted and somewhat action-y movie about a squirrel named Surly planning a raid to collect nuts from a store, but after the climax, Surly appears to have died after falling over a waterfall and Buddy breaks his silence to whisper, "Best...friend..." as Precious lets out a Howl of Sorrow. Then Surly wakes up, much to everyone's relief.
  • The Crime Job: One of the title's meanings.
  • Dance Party Ending: The cast dances to "Gangnam Style" during the credits. Psy himself even appears.
  • Disney Villain Death:
    • Subverted. Raccoon does go over the waterfall along with Surly, but it is later revealed that he survived the fall and has drifted out to sea.
    • It's also implied Knuckles goes over the waterfall as well.
  • Dogs Hate Squirrels: Subverted. During Surly's plan to break into the nut store, he gets cornered by their Angry Guard Dog Precious. But before she can rip him apart he gets a hold of their dog whistle which brings her to her knees. Surly then uses it as a Restraining Bolt to force her into cooperation as they work with the other park animals to get the nuts. But by the end of the movie she pulls a Heel–Face Turn and helps Surly as friend. This is highlighted by how she helped him even though he had lost the whistle by that point.
  • A Dog Named "Dog": Raccoon and Mole’s names indicate their species.
  • Double Entendre:
    • The title.
    • Lampshaded on another occasion.
    Surly: So you're The Mole, Double Entendre intended!
  • Double Meaning: The human villains' frequent reliance on Brooklyn Rage means they use a lot of stereotypical gangster speak, including "rat" in reference to a traitor or saboteur. So when King commands his gang to "find the rat," his men, knowing both the "gangster definition" of rat and their boss' phobia of said rodents, are unsure about what kind of rat he means in this context.
    • Ditto the scene where Raccoon’s cardinal brings Raccoon a nut for the park's food store, and it's a metal hexagonal nut.
    Raccoon: I'm afraid this is the wrong kind of nut. [ponders] Hmm... shiny!
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Raccoon seems pretty shocked and upset when the cardinal gets apparently eaten by a bunch of cats.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: In the end, Surly is content to be this: helping the park community with only Andie knowing the truth.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: When Surly is being weighed down by Raccoon as the gang strain to hold him fast, he deliberately lets go to save them.
  • Hidden Depths: For all of Surly's early misanthropy, you'll notice that he is determined to drive away Buddy so he won't be in exile too, as he growls, "This is my punishment."
  • Howl of Sorrow: Precious lets out a mournful howl when she and Buddy think Surly is dead. Before they walk away, he wakes up alive and well.
  • Hurricane of Puns: The film is full of nut-based puns. Making a Drinking Game out of it is not advised.
  • Idiot Hero: Grayson takes it to new levels of obliviousness and stupidity, but he means well. And although we don't know him for very long before he is involved in a big crash, it's implied the head injury he suffers is the reason for his behavior later in the film, and that, prior to this, he was actually a competent hero, just a smug, overconfident and arrogant one.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Played for laughs when a particularly nervous-looking policeman fires without even looking and shoots out the tire on the gangsters' getaway van, for which he is awarded a donut by his superior.
  • Inevitable Waterfall: The climax of the movie takes place on one.
  • It's All About Me:
    • Whenever Surly steals something, he keeps it all for himself.
    • Grayson can sometimes be this way, too. Although he isn't motivated by selfishness at all, he sure can hog the spotlight like nobody's business.
  • Large Ham:
    • Grayson. Even before he suffered his head injury, he was a pretentious and bombastic squirrel who couldn't stop Chewing the Scenery.
    • Raccoon to a lesser degree, who manages to use his charisma to manipulate and control everyone in the park into getting him food.
  • Made of Iron: Raccoon's cardinal friend, to the point that it's a Running Gag. In fact, the only ones in the film that die are some street rats and possibly Knuckles.
  • Man Hug: Buddy shows open affection for his best friend Surly and is not afraid to hug him, but Surly usually hits him for it or pushes him off, saying "Get your hands off me!" Until his Disney Death, where after Buddy realizes Surly is alive he is overjoyed and runs to hug Surly. Surly flinches back slightly, and Buddy stops, since Surly doesn't like hugs. Then Surly glomps him instead.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Raccoon, who convinces everyone to banish Surly from the park, and then use Surly all so they can steal food that only he'll have access to so he can control the animals' food supply, thus controlling the animals themselves.
  • Meaningful Name
    • : The word surly means "rude and unfriendly", or "menacing or threatening in appearance." Subverted towards the end of the movie.
    • Redline the mouse. To redline something or someone is to shove them aside and ignore them, which is essentially what everyone does to Redline, despite him being possibly the loudest character.
  • Minion with an F in Evil: Fingers and Lucky, at least insofar as they're a lot less ruthless and more naive than King.
  • Morality Pet: Lana is this to King to some extent.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: One tv spot gives off the impression that the squirrels are secret agents. Yeah. Also Buddy is shown saying “Geronimo” at one point in the trailer and does a goofy laugh, even though he is mute for most of the movie, at least until the end.
  • Nice Guy:
    • As hammy as Grayson is, he's one of the few characters who's actually nice to Surly and doesn't hate him. When the other animals all voting to banish Surly from the park, Grayson is still delirious from the accident and simply agrees with everyone else despite not knowing what they're voting about.
    • Buddy, who's nice to everyone including Surly, even when Surly's being a Jerkass to him. Like Grayson, his role in Surly's banishment is also completely accidental, with him raising his hand simply to wave to his friend.
    • Andie, who, like Buddy, is nice to Surly despite how he treats her. She even tries to prevent him from being banned from the park.
  • No Honor Among Thieves: King double-crosses Fingers and Lucky, and is in turn double-crossed by Knuckles.
  • No Indoor Voice: Redline (the little mouse who worships Grayson) sure does yell a lot. Ditto the Girl Scout who antagonizes Fingers at the beginning.
  • Oh, Crap!: Surly gets this reaction when he first encounters Precious.
    Surly: Oh, great.
  • Only Sane Squirrel:
    • Andie is the only park dweller who is a real asset to the park community.
    • It seems Grayson was, too, until his injury at the beginning of the film which is apparently largely responsible for his behavior later. His only negative trait prior to the injury seemed to be his arrogance.
  • Open the Iris: When Surly finds a nut shop right in front of him, his pupils slowly expand when he realizes what a big opportunity he has.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Surly tries to evade a gang of bad rats by putting a small plastic cup over his nose to look like one of them. It doesn't work.
    Surly: Looking for that squirrel, huh? Me too. [cup falls off]
  • Please, Don't Leave Me: The Stinger reveals that Raccoon survived his fall over the waterfall, and has drifted out to sea on a life buoy. The Cardinal flies out to sit with him. Raccoon responds with a snarky comment. The Cardinal takes offense and prepares to leave, to which Raccoon quickly backtracks and says, "Please stay."
  • Plot Hole: In the big finale, the truck containing the nuts and all the characters falls in a river. Surly, Raccon, and Knuckles go over the falls while the others stand on a log at the edge and all the nuts float in the river. The city is clearly visible behind them, upstream. The next scene has them and all the nuts floating into the park, which is necessarily upriver from them.
  • Plot Parallel: The film revolves around two heists, with a group of park animals stealing food from a nut shop, while the humans who own the shop plot a bank robbery. The two stories have several similarities, and directly intersect with each other at several points, but neither side is aware of the other until they finally collide in the climax.
  • Polish the Turd: One of the positive reviews on the DVD release supposedly came from Avi Offer of NYC Movie Guru, but a check of his site finds that he did not give it a full text review.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "Thing. A. Ma. Boobie!"
  • Smug Snake: Raccoon. Throughout the whole movie, he tries to blame all the bad misdeeds on Surly and manipulates everyone into believing him, but when Mole exposes Raccoon for who he really is, all his plans fall apart. Even then, he still tried to blame Surly for it.
  • Spear Carrier: The sparrow who tries to alert Raccoon of the flaming cart of nuts heading for the food storage tree. Mole shuts him up before he could get Raccoon’s attention so the bird would not interrupt Raccoon’s speech. This is the most significant attention this sparrow character gets as he is only ever seen in brief background shots.
  • Squirrels in My Pants: Not a squirrel (odd in a movie full of them), but a rat.
  • The Stinger: During a credits scene, it is revealed that Raccoon survived his fall off the waterfall and has drifted out to sea on a life buoy. His cardinal friend prepares to leave him, but Raccoon begs him to stay, which he does. And then several sharks start circling them...
  • Super-Senses: Knuckles has really sharp hearing. The dog whistle drives him crazier than it does Precious.
  • Taking You with Me: Before going over the waterfall, Raccoon grabs Surly in hopes that he will be rid of him for good. Surly survives the fall.
  • Threw My Bike on the Roof: Surly destroys a pigeon’s nest early in the movie just because he could not find any treats for him in it. The pigeon even lands on where her destroyed nest was and chirps at him angrily.
  • Toilet Humour:
    • Mostly from Jimmy and Johnny, much to Jamie's irritation. More gas related humor they have involves burping.
    • Surly farts a few times after gorging on too much cheese.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: The plot of Surly's attempted heist of the nut shop vs. the humans' bank heist.
  • The Voiceless:
    • Also Knuckles, who never says a single thing in the film.
    • Raccoon's cardinal friend.
  • Uncertain Doom: Raccoon was last seen stuck out at sea with sharks slowly surrounding him. Since he doesn't appear in the sequel, it's possible he was Killed Offscreen. That is, until a post-credits scene reveals that he made his way back to land.
  • Undying Loyalty: Buddy wants to stick with Surly no matter what obstacles they face.
  • What Do You Mean It's Not Heinous?: Surly threatening Precious with the dog whistle, and when he "tortures" Mole with the street light's glare.
  • Why Did It Have To Be Rats?: Due to his stay in prison, King has an unreasoning fear of rats, to the point where he reacts to the squirrels as if they're just bushy-tailed rats (while his men, lacking his phobia, correctly identify them as being squirrels).
  • Women Are Wiser: Andie is sincerely determined to help her community and is the only park dweller who has the skill and determination to do that reliably.
  • You Dirty Rat!: Averted with Buddy, who is cute, friendly, and cuddly. Played straight with the urban rats who are vicious killers.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Raccoon seems fond of this trope. Andie, despite her competence, doesn't follow orders as well as he'd like. So he sends her out on what is apparently an intentionally doomed mission, seemingly never expecting her to return. It would appear this is also why he sends the recently brain-damaged Grayson with her - in his current state, Grayson is a joke as the "park hero" (no matter what the other animals think of him) and an embarrassment to Raccoon's leadership. He later does this to all the heroic characters by locking them in a van, since their role in making the mission fail and frame Surly for it is now over.