• by Wes Singleton

The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature, C-

Rated PG, 95 minutes

The likable yet unfunny and unnecessary animated sequel "The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature" is strictly for the young set, who won't know any better. Though peppered with some charming moments and energy, it's mostly a waste of time and a waste of decent comedic talent, all who have done better.

Surly (Will Arnett) and the park animals find a park. But Oakton City's crooked mayor (Bobby Moynihan) want to bulldozing Liberty Park and replacing it with a dangerous amusement park. Surly gets help from the territorial street mouse gang leader Mr. Feng (Jackie Chan) into thwarting the mayor's plot.

Directed and co-written by Cal Brunker with characters based on Peter Lepeniotis's short film that became the 2014 film "The Nut Job," this inexplicable sequel can only be tied to foreign box-office receipts, where the original film earned most of its cash. Honestly, there isn't much to it - a fat cat mayor ("Saturday Night Live" star Moynihan) tries to shutter the park the animals they're in so the animals fight back - and what's there isn't all that funny.

Lots and lots of silliness ensues, as the animals strive to outwith the mayor in their battle for the park. It helps having a funny guy and a terrific voice like Arnett in the lead, but he's slumming here in a role that's inexplicably dumb, so dumb you wonder why he's leading the charge, given he'd rather be sitting around eating nuts. That really explains "The Nut Job 2:" a battle of nit wits, with the last one holding his (or some) nuts.

Kids will enjoy the most for a minute or two, but they won't get most of the jokes, and I found that one of the canines, played by "Bridesmaids'" Maya Rudolph, does so much licking that it becomes just plain creepy. Adding to the silliness is Jackie Chan, a leader of a cute mouse gang who helps the park animals fight back and who hates being referred to as cute.

The genuinely funny moments in "The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature" are about as sparse as acorns in the winter. On that note, you're better off going to the park and watching some real squirrels, it's much more fun and entertaining than "The Nut Job 2" (and it's free too).

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