Friday, February 26, 2016


I was solidly behind the concept when I first watched the trailer for this film. I am happy to say that it lives up to expectations and in some strange way become a relevant commentary about the battle between the classes - in this case predator and prey. Predators have all the control because they are, well, predators while the sheep and bunnies and mice and all the rest of the prey get to be pushed around by the ones who are bigger and stronger. Sound familiar?

The modern mammal metropolis of Zootopia is a city like no other. Comprised of habitat neighborhoods like ritzy Sahara Square and frigid Tundratown, it's a melting pot where animals from every environment live together-a place where no matter what you are, from the biggest elephant to the smallest shrew, you can be anything. But when rookie Officer Judy Hopps (voice of Ginnifer Goodwin) arrives, she discovers that being the first bunny on a police force of big, tough animals isn't so easy. Determined to prove herself, she jumps at the opportunity to crack a case, even if it means partnering with a fast-talking, scam-artist fox, Nick Wilde (voice of Jason Bateman), to solve the mystery. Walt Disney Animation Studios' "Zootopia," a comedy-adventure directed by Byron Howard ("Tangled," "Bolt") and Rich Moore ("Wreck-It Ralph," "The Simpsons") and co-directed by Jared Bush ("Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero"), opens in theaters on March 4, 2016. Officer Judy Hopps (voice of Ginnifer Goodwin), the very first bunny on Zootopia's police force, jumps at the opportunity to crack her first case-even if it means partnering with fast-talking, scam-artist fox Nick Wilde (voice of Jason Bateman) to solve the mystery.

I have to admit that I totally bought into the dreams of Judy and how she learns to defeat her fears with brains to become the first ever Bunny Cop. Of course she has a lot to prove, mostly to herself. Her folks are hilarious and they are huge dream squashers.

"When is there not a need for a fox taser?" Foxes are her parent's biggest fear so of course she would have to team up with a fox in her first big case. A fox who tries to break her dreams but of course proves to be her best ally and friend ever. So Disney.

There is a sequence when she first arrives to Zootopia on the train that gives us a fantastic look at all the habitats existing in this one mythical place. The scenes of animals living and working together are magical to see and many gags hit the mark without being annoying. There is much to look at here and you would be forgiven for needing several viewings to catch them all. The Sloth DMV is a wicked stab at everyone's worst nightmare of dealing with city services and bureaucracy. I wanted to stab myself in the eye with my soda straw because like with Judy, the world moves too slow for me already. All the gags with the different animal groups are funny, especially the Godfather parody shown in the trailer. Very funny stuff.

Judy is so out of her element until once again her imagination and ability to problem solve make her a star at every crappy job she is given. Her enthusiasm and belief is others is a joy to watch. There are many running gags that pay off big time as she rushes to solve her first big case. We all know how it will end but the way the filmmakers get to that place is a fun ride.

Zootopia is also a bit of a racist place with much animalism going on. The movie does not shy away from this fact. Animals have their place and it's not popular to stray too far from your predetermined destiny. Smaller kids will miss out on this message entirely while being scared to death by some very terrifying chase scenes involving predators that have gone 'savage'. That Jaguar would give me nightmares for weeks if I was 8.

All that being said, the picture is gorgeous to look at and interesting throughout. It plays like a Pixar film in the way that it's really for the teens and adults in the audience because it's social commentary is way above the ability of younger viewers to understand. It's tough stuff and hits maybe a little too close to home. That kind of analysis in popular storytelling is a rare thing these days. I for one appreciated not being treated like an idiot. I realized I could expect more from a 'cartoon' and was rewarded for choosing to watch this film. Don't miss this one. It's a winner.


Debra She Who Seeks said...

I'm looking forward to seeing this! Did you enjoy Peter Mansbridge's cameo as Peter Moosebridge?

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

He wasn't on long enough. Too short but that show has so much in it that is never repeats itself or has room to in only 90 minutes. So much going on here.

Erik Johnson Illustrator said...

You're telling me they got this in Canada a week before the US?!

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

Let's just say that my version 'fell off the truck'. I know a guy who likes the Cave of Cool and could possible have connections with the Russian mob. Screeners are my few perks as an artist.