I think I’m reaching something of a children’s animation trailer overload, with constant Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 previews reminding me that’s opening this weekend, along with new spots for Free Birds and Frozen popping up this week. And now Yahoo! Movies has unveiled our first full look at Open Roads Films’ The Nut Job, the directorial debut from animator Peter Lepeniotis. And I'm surprised as anyone that I’m actually looking forward to it almost as much as any of the other three.

Cloudy inevitably has to live up in comparison to its predecessor, Free Birds has to live up to its ridiculous premise, and Frozen will somehow try to live up to Disney standards despite having the most out of place snowman in snowmen history, but The Nut Job is simply a heist film with squirrels instead of normal human criminals. It’s the first feature from production companies Toonbox Entertainment, Red Rover International and Gulfstream Pictures. By all means, The Nut Job could be as simple as its one-note punny title, but it strives for something more…

I kid, of course. This is a trailer with a fart joke in it, people! There’s definitely some pandering going on here, and I have yet to ever hear a song in kids’ movie trailer that isn’t ear-stabbingly bad (though I’d rather hear an techno track that I’m not familiar with rather than see characters performing something from the 1980s or the Black Eyed Peas). But the animation on display here, while cartoony, is quite rich and detailed, and I dig the plot and the cast. Am I the nut job here?

Will Arnett plays Surly, a squirrel who lives up to his name. He teams up with his rat friend and a small crew of dumb animals to rob a nut store so that they can survive the winter by pigging out all the time. Of course, their planning could all be for naught if the nefarious Raccoon, voiced by Liam Neeson, has anything to say about it.

It’s an easy story, but I like watching groups of buffoons attempt to do something several times while failing along the way. And centering it on a heist just gets me all the more excited (or tolerant, as it may be), Even the previously released poster for the film is that much better than most others.


Instead of merely lining up all the characters to pose like tough guys or whatever other generic kids’ movie poster trope you can think of, there’s an actual concept to the art here. Maybe I’m taking this too far. But just watch the short film below created to promote The Nut Job. It’s pretty fabulous, and gives me hope that all these companies could rise quickly in the ranks of studio animation. Catch The Nut Job in theaters on January 17, 2014.

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