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Bland ‘Nut Job 2’ forages for a reason to exist

Will Arnett and Katherine Heigl provide the voices in “The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature.”
Will Arnett and Katherine Heigl provide the voices in “The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature.”

Be thankful for the second-rate visuals in “The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature.” The jokes about dogs eating their own vomit would have been much harder to watch with state-of-the-art animation.

You take victories where you can at this point in the summer, when studios feel compelled to continue releasing movies, even though most filmgoers have been stripped of their desire to see them. “The Nut Job 2” seems targeted for parents who have a week left before school starts and have run out of ideas.

The movie certainly doesn’t have any new ones. The first “Nut Job” in 2014 tried to set itself apart, with a 1960s setting and noirish qualities. It wasn’t good, but it was mediocre in the name of art. The sequel is a movie of distractions, not ideas. The action rarely stops, because that would be a reminder that the film has nothing to say.

Will Arnett voices Surly, a selfish squirrel growing fat off the spoils of an abandoned nut store while would-be girlfriend Andie (Katherine Heigl) continues to forage in the nearby park. Disaster strikes for the lazier animals, as a Boss Hogg-like mayor (Bobby Moynihan) aims to destroy the greenery and turn it into a death trap amusement park.

All of these themes have been explored before in much better TV and film. “The Nut Job 2” lacks anything that stamps it as unique. It’s the kind of film that you can accurately surmise the entire plot just by looking at the movie poster.

“The Nut Job 2” does have a few positives. A new pack of Chinatown mice are good for some satisfying physical comedy, in a killer rabbit-from-“Monty Python and the Holy Grail” kind of way. You’ll wish they were in the movie more.

The character and production design remain solid. The park and buildings have a warm quality that suggests a city with depth, as if someone might be filming a better animated comedy a block or two away.

“The Nut Job 2” is an adequate babysitter that fails to inspire. With so much repetitive action, there is no bad time to take a bathroom break.

Movie review

‘The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature’

Rated PG. 1:31. AMC Classic, Fayette, Frankfort, Georgetown, Hamburg, Nicholasville, Winchester.

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