The Nut Job is animation’s rebuke to Atlas Shrugged. Here we have an individualist, a practitioner of the Ayn Randian virtue of selfishness, who must learn to share with others and embrace the joys of collectivization. And by “others,” I mean other rodents. This subtext must’ve amused director Peter Lepeniotis and his co-writer Lorne Cameron, although they pepper the movie with enough dry-roasted jokes to dispel any sense of preaching.
The egotist is Surly (voiced by gravelly Will Arnett), a purple squirrel whose me-first behavior gets him kicked out of the park. He and his silent rat sidekick Buddy will vie with the other park animals to raid the pantry of a nearby nut shop—which is really the front for a gangster operation, and at this point further plot description becomes superfluous.