“Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature”

Susan Granger’s review of “Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature” (Open Road)

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No better than the cartoons you can see on television, this animated sequel zeros in on squirrels Surly (voiced by Will Arnett) and Andie (voiced by Katherine Heigl), who are obviously destined for one another but face a number of obstacles on a circuitous road to romance.

Perpetually grumbling Surly and the rest of his gluttonous gang hang out in abandoned Nibbler’s Nut Shop near Liberty Park, gobbling artisanal, previously shelled morsels. Conscientious Andie is annoyed by their slothful behavior and relieved when an explosion destroys the dilapidated building.

But then Oakton City’s corrupt Mayor (voiced by Bobby Moynihan) announces plans to bulldoze their park, turning it into “Liberty Land,” an amusement center, avoiding safety compliance to maximize profits. We know he’s a bad guy because his car’s vanity license plate is MBEZZLIN.

Rising in protest, Surly, Andie and their cohorts are unexpectedly aided by white-furred Mr. Feng (voiced by Jackie Chan), who lives in Chinatown, having mysteriously evolved from a street rodent into a “weapon of mouse destruction.”

Plus, there’s Precious (voiced by Maya Rudolph), a scrappy, pop-eyed pug that frolics with Frankie (voiced by Bobby Cannavale), the Mayor’s daughter’s French bulldog who, after lapping up her regurgitated food, whines, “What are you, vegan? It’s go no taste!”

Scripted by director Cal Brunker with co-writers Bob Barlen and Scott Bindley, the anthropomorphic concept underlines the value of friendship and working together toward a common goal, amidst the chaos caused by a rolling Ferris Wheel-on-fire and a real mole playing Whack-a-Mole, noting, “The very existence of this game offends me!”

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature” scurries in as a frenzied 4, a back-to-school time-waster.

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