Regurgitated ‘Nut Job 2’ caps a weak summer of animation sequels

Open Road Films

Katherine Heigl voices Andie in “Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature.”

“THE NUT JOB 2: NUTTY BY NATURE” — 1½ stars — Voices of Will Arnett, Katherine Heigl, Maya Rudolph, Jackie Chan, Jeff Dunham; PG (action and some rude humor); in general release

It has been a weak summer for animation, heavy on sequels and light on originality. So it seems appropriate that “The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature” arrives in theaters as we drift toward the middle of August and the arrival of the new school year.

“Nut Job 2” is the follow-up to 2014’s “Nut Job,” which followed the exploits of a city squirrel and his cohorts as they took on a group of mobsters running a local nut store. The sequel finds the original hero Surly (voiced by Will Arnett) presiding over the now-abandoned store and its lifetime supply of food, which the local wildlife community is only too happy to enjoy.

The only holdout is Andie (Katherine Heigl), Surly’s sort-of love interest and full-time wet blanket, who is silly enough to suggest that the park animals should forage for their food and preserve some kind of community work ethic. Her wishes are quickly validated when an explosion levels the nut store and evicts Surly and his bunch back to the city park where their adventures started.

Unfortunately for everyone involved, Liberty Park is in the crosshairs of a corrupt city mayor (Bobby Moynihan), who feels inspired to turn the green space into a cheap, corner-cutting but highly profitable theme park — Libertyland. Thus, “Nut Job 2” sees Surly and company confronting a different kind of corruption, which is threatening their very survival.

Familiarity with the original “Nut Job” is not required to follow the events of the sequel, but if you have seen the first, you’ll note the return of several familiar voices. In addition to Arnett and Heigl, Maya Rudolph returns to voice Precious the dog, who gets a subplot connected to Frankie (Bobby Cannavale), the dog belonging to the mayor’s obnoxious…

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