Thursday, March 31, 2016

2106 - Zootopia


Well, once again, Disney has a film out in theaters, and it's my job to tell you to go see it. GO SEE IT. Seriously, they've been at a pretty high level of quality. They haven't come out with a really bad movie since Meet the Robinsons, and I still kinda liked that. You have to head back to Chicken Little to find something straight up terrible. But Zootopia is more than just a good film from a good studio. This is amazing. This is the best movie they've made since Winnie-The-Pooh, which was itself the best since Lilo and Stitch. Now, it's only been out for a few weeks, so here's my three top reasons to see it:




IT'S EXTREMELY FUNNY

I did NOT have high expectations going in. "Okay, city full of animals, get ready for some cheap animal jokes." And there are a few of those. The rabbits have over a hundred kids, stuff like that. But the world that they've created is so pervasively animal-oriented that there are nonstop opportunities to cram in all kinds of background gags, and the joke saturation - the puns on the signs alone - just creates this squishy, pleasant base level of humor so that when something more character-based hits, it is amplified by the already-existing giggles. And even the lame animal jokes are expertly done. As soon as I saw the sloth-staffed DMV, I was set to roll my eyes, but the timing was PERFECT.

Favorite Joke - Alan Tudyk, who played the Duke of Wesselton in Frozen, plays Duke Weaselton in this one, and the joke about mispronouncing his name is inverted. He also is selling bootleg Disney DVDs, which include numerous bonus puns, even for movies that aren't being released for a few months.



IT'S EXTREMELY WELL MADE

Visually, it's a marvel. A sweeping cityscape is nothing new in Disney, even before they were doing it in CG, but this one is a step beyond. The city center, where everything is oriented for animals of all different sizes, the "ethnic neighborhoods" for arctic, jungle, desert, and other environments, even the way the cars were designed. This is a world that doesn't make sense if you think about it at all, and by gum, they made it work. The casting is also really on point, as is the norm. The celebrity leads, Jason Bateman and Ginnifer Goodwin, thankfully avoid Bland Lead Syndrome, and the support from seasoned voice actors like Jenny Slate, J.K. Simmons, Maurice LaMarche, Jesse Corti, and others.

But I have to complain about - There's a running gag about everyone loving a pop star called Gazelle, played by and clearly based on Shakira. She does fine, but the name... Did they try to get Adele and couldn't? Because the gag is clearly inspired by her. This is like when they created Sir Jean Hamm for Galavant, but Jon Hamm was unavailable, so they cast John Stamos, but DIDN'T CHANGE THE NAME TO JEAN STAMOS. It's madness. They could easily have called her.. I don't know, Sha-deer-a or something?

IT'S PERTINENT

What I really didn't expect going in was the incredible relevance of the movie. The population of Zootopia is 10% predator animals and 90% prey. (With, I guess, a few outliers like elephants, rhinos, and cape buffalo, who are all on the police force.) So the main thrust of the plot is the effect of profiling a minority as "dangerous". The fox con artist that our main character deputizes isn't just a jerk, he's been treated with suspicion and hostility his whole life because he's a predator species. So he responded by embracing the "sly fox" stereotype. This movie addresses serious issues with policing and the way people view minorities, and it does it in a very real way. I've complained occasionally before about movies using a stand-in for a minority as a way to avoid really talking about an issue, but this proves that they can really address it effectively. I don't want to go into too much detail on the plot, because it is a mystery (for kids, remember, don't expect Agatha Christie), but they don't just use oppression and privilege as color. They get into it. Conservatives have been complaining, of course, but they always do.

Random Trivia - In Europe, the movie is called "Zootropolis", because a theme park has a trademark on Zootopia.

SO YEAH

This movie is an absolute, unqualified recommendation. I'm not even sure why you're still reading this. Go see it. Go see it now. I'm not doing additional thoughts. Go now.

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