Disney Reviews with the Unshaved Mouse #55: Zootopia/Zootropolis

 

"Mr Disney? There's a Mr Chernabog here to see you?"

“Mr Disney? There’s someone here to see you?”

"What? But the world thinks I've been dead since the sixties, who even knows I still work here?"

“What? But the world thinks I’ve been dead since the sixties, who even knows I still work here?”

"He said his name was Mr Chernabog?"

“He said his name was Mr Chernabog?”

"CRAP. Tell him I can't see him."

“CRAP. Tell him I can’t see him.”

"I would sir, but I'm not really here. I'm just a hallucination caused by your black-magic addled mind."

“I would sir, but I’m not really here. I’m just a hallucination caused by your black-magic addled mind.”

"DISSSSSSSNEY I WOULD HAVE WORDSSSS WITH THEE."

“DISSSSSSSNEY I WOULD HAVE WORDSSSS WITH THEE.”

"Cherny! C-Train! As the world Cherns! How the fuck are you?"

“Cherny! C-Train! As the world Cherns! How the fuck are you?”

"YOU HAVE BETRAYED ME, SSSSSORCEROR. AND THE LORD OF BALD MOUNTAIN KNOWSSS NOT OF MERCY."

“YOU HAVE BETRAYED ME, SSSSSORCEROR. AND THE LORD OF BALD MOUNTAIN KNOWSSS NOT OF MERCY.”

"Whoah! Hey! Walter Elias Disney is a man of his word, so how bout you settle down and tell me what this is all about?"

“Whoah! Hey! Walter Elias Disney is a man of his word, so how ’bout you settle down and tell me what this is all about?”

"WE HAD A PACT, YOU AND I. I GAVE YOU IMMORTALITY AND IN RETURN YOU AGREED TO CREATE FOR ME AN ARMY OF THE MOST DEPRAVED, HELLISH CREATURES EVER TO WALK THE EARTH."

“WE HAD A PACT, YOU AND I. I GAVE YOU IMMORTALITY AND IN RETURN YOU AGREED TO CREATE FOR ME AN ARMY OF THE MOSSSSSST DEPRAVED, HELLISSSSSH CREATURESSSS EVER TO WALK THE EARTH.”

"What? Furries?"

“What? Furries?”

"I MUSSST HAVE MORE FURRRIESSS! MORE! THE CROP GROWSSS THIN! THE CROPS GROWSSSS THIN!"

“I MUSSST HAVE MORE FURRIESSS! MORE! THE CROP GROWSSS THIN! THE CROPS GROWSSSS THIN!”

"What are you talking about? We made Robin Hood!"

“What are you talking about? I made Robin Hood! That should have kept you balls deep in furries for years!”

"THAT WASSSS OVER FORTY YEARSSSSS AGO!"

“THAT WASSSS OVER FORTY YEARSSSSS AGO!”

"Fuck. My. Ass. Yikes, sorry. My bad. I'll get right on that."

“Fuck. My. Ass. Yikes, sorry. My bad. I’ll get right on that.”

"BE WARNED! IF I DO NOT RECEIVE AN ARMY OF FURRIESSSS BEYOND RECKONING I SHALL EAT..."

“BE WARNED! IF I DO NOT RECEIVE AN ARMY OF FURRIESSSS BEYOND RECKONING I SHALL EAT…”

"Eat my soul, yeah, got it. Laurie? Get on the phone to the boys in animation and tell them we need a movie so chock full of furry bait that half the country will be yiffing by Christmas."

“Eat my soul, yeah, got it. Laurie? Get on the phone to the boys in animation and tell them we need a movie so chock full of furry bait that half the country will be yiffing by Christmas.”

"I already told you, I'm not really here!"

“I already told you, I’m not really here!”

"Just do it woman!"

“Just do it woman!”

***

Some blogs might tell you that Zootopia/Zootropolis came about as part of an ongoing effort by Disney to address the more troubling and regressive aspects of their legacy and take on a pressing real world issue. But only I will tell you the truth, namely that it was part of a desperate ploy to pay off a faustian bargain made by immortal warlock Walt Disney by creating an army of furries for a demonic lord of evil. That is why, after all, the people come to Unshaved Mouse.

But first of all, let’s talk about the elephant in the room.

Not that one.

Sit down, Francine.

Namely, why the hell is this called “Zootropolis” on my side of the pond? Well, Disney haven’t actually given a reason for the name change. One possibility of course is that, as sophisticated Europeans, we would know that any utopia, even a zootopia, is impossible in an imperfect world and refuse to see the movie purely on the grounds of philosophical consistency. Also, there’s the fact that a zoo called “Zootopia” is opening in Denmark soon and maybe Disney’s lawyers didn’t want the hassle. Who can say?

Anyway, if you read this blog you’re probably aware that Disney have been on one hell of a hot streak for the last few years, producing movies that are both critically lauded and hugely successful. That in and of itself is nothing new, the Disney canon goes through peaks and troughs and this is just one peak of many. But one thing that is different this time around is that Disney is more and more comfortable making movies that actually have something relevant to say about the world. I once called Walt Disney the most apolitical American artist of the twentieth century. His movies were beautiful, funny and charming but they almost never had any kind of political message or agenda beyond the most broad “be nice, everybody” kind of sentiment. They were meant to appeal to the broadest audience possible in their own time which in practice meant that they were very conservative and very, very white.

Fast forward to today. In my review of Princess and the Frog I called the current era of the Disney canon “The Redemption Era”. Unlike the Lost Era that preceded it, where Disney was trying to definitively break with the past, new types of story, new styles, new animation techniques, the Redemption Era wears its classic influences with pride. It loves and respects the canon. But it is not blind to its flaws, either. The Redemption Era is a Beatles fan who has every album but never forgets that John Lennon beat his wife. It doesn’t simply ignore the more troubling aspects of the Disney canon but makes challenging them a core part of its identity, whether that’s doing a Restoration Era fairy tale with an all-minority main cast or a Renaissance Era musical where the princess doesn’t marry a prince at the end.  Zootopia takes this to a new level. Regular commenter Kahnamanko called it the most topical and socially relevant movie Disney has made since their World War 2 propaganda shorts and I think that’s probably true. But does that make it a good movie? Does the simple fact that it’s willing to tackle such a pressing and hot-button issue as racism make it a classic that will stand the test of time? Let me answer that question with a question, do you feel a burning desire to watch any of the following movies; Brokeback Mountain, Philadelphia, Crash or Lions for Lambs? Yeah, didn’t think so. Movies that directly address the great issues of the day are often very worthy endeavours but they rarely end up being particularly beloved movies. Does Zootopia defy the odds? Let’s take a look.

***

So the movie begins with a school play being performed by Judy Hopps (Della Saba), an adorable little bunny. The play gives us the basic background to this world. Humans never existed (actually, there are no primates at all) and while predators and prey used to act like the animals of our world. Judy demonstrates this by staging a horrifically gorey scene where she’s disembowelled by a tiger complete with ketchup spraying everywhere. However, animals have since evolved and now live together in harmony (more or less). Judy explains that now any animal can be whatever they want, and that she is going to be a police officer, much to the shock of her parents in the audience. It’s a funny scene that quickly and effectively establishes the rules of this world, but I’ll be honest, I mostly love it because it introduces us to the pure awesomeness of Bobby Catmull.

Kid

He’s got maybe five seconds of screentime and he’s not even named in the movie but everything about this character is just amazing. It’s the lazer-like intensity that he brings to everything he does. He doesn’t care that this is just a tiny kid’s play in a country fair in a nowhere hick town, he is going to put one hundred and ten percent into beating that drum because he is a goddamn professional.

After the show, Judy’s dad (Don Lake) and mom (Bonnie Hunt) gently try to dissuade her from becoming a cop, saying that there has never been a rabbit police officer, only rabbits pretending to be police officers to trick mobsters into hiding in ovens. Judy says that she’ll just have to be the first. Now, character design in this movie is phenomenally good.

Too cute

In fact, if anything, it might be a little too good. I get the feeling watching this movie that Disney have finally worked out the algorithm for maximum possible cuteness and my brain is powerless to resist. I love this design, but I never had a choice. This may be sacrilege but I’m kinda over the current Disney house style. It almost makes me pine for the days of the Lost Era. Sure, the movies weren’t always good but they were always visually distinctive. I mean, visually, this movie is damn near flawless. But so was FrozenAnd so was Tangled. At this point I kinda feel like they’ve gotten as good as they’re going to get with this particular style and maybe it’s time to try something new. Of course, the chances of that happening right now, after Zootopia has become the fourth highest grossing animated film of all time, are practically zero. Big changes to the formula don’t happen after a Zootopia. They happen after a Black Cauldron

Oh shit, now I feel like Ive jinxed it. Itll be great guys, seriously, the trailer looks amazing.

Aaaaaand now I feel like I’ve jinxed it. It’ll be great guys, seriously, the trailer looks amazing.

 Anyway, Judy sees the local bully, a fox named Gideon, stealing fair tickets from her friends. She tries to stop him but Gideon mocks her, saying that he’s a predator and that there’s nothing she can do to stop him. Judy refuses to back down and Gideon says “You don’t know when to quit, do you?” and knocks her to the ground. He claws her face and snarls at her to remember this moment any time she thinks that she can be anything other than a “stupid, carrot-farming, dumb bunny”. Gideon then leaves and Judy’s friends gather around her and she shows them the tickets that she was able to grab off Gideon when he wasn’t looking. She then says that Gideon was right about one thing.

I don't know when to quit

“I don’t know when to quit.”

Flash forward fifteen years and the adult Judy (Ginnifer Goodwin) is now a cadet in the Zootropolis Police Academy where she has to endure a brutal training regimen not designed for small animals. But she pushes herself to succeed, cramming for her exams and getting up at dawn to run.

I have NEVER understood this. Why not wait until a reasonable hour? Why do something that will make you tired AND sleepy?

I have NEVER understood this. Why not wait until a reasonable hour? Why do something that will make you tired AND sleepy?

So of course Judy proves that she is swift as the coursing river with all the force of the great typhoon and graduates top of her class. At the graduation ceremony Mayor Lionheart (JK Simmons) tells her that she’s being assigned to the heart of Zootropolis. She also meets Lionheart’s put-upon Assistant Mayor, a meek little sheep named Bellwether (Jenny Slate) who congratulates Judy and tells her that “it’s a great day for us little guys.”

Judy gets ready to leave home and says goodbye to her parents at the train station. Her Dad tells her to watch out for predators and gives her a care package that includes fox deterrent, fox repellant and a frickin’ fox taser and whoah, whoah, whoah back up.

Okay, I can absolutely buy that Judy’s parents have prejudices against predators, that totally makes sense. But how the hell is it legal in this world for a company to sell branded products targeting one whole species?! I mean…how do foxes feel driving past a factory with a big massive sign saying “FOX AWAY INCORPORATED” and a black fox skull? Do the foxes picket stores that sell these things? Does the animal equivalent of John Oliver (probably a vole called John Volever) run segments where he angrily squeaks “Fox tazers?! How is this still a thing?!”

Anyway, Judy agrees to take the fox repellant just to keep her parents happy and heads off for Zootropolis. And it’s at this point that the animators just casually decide to drop our jaws with this gorgeous, incredible city that they’ve visualised from the ground up. I gave a lot of praise in the Big Hero Six review to San Fransokyo but honestly Zootropolis blows it out of the frickin’ water. Take an idealised version of New York, combine it with London’s Financial district, give it a dozen or so seperate biomes (tundra, rainforest, desert etc) and re-design it for use by hundreds of different species of different sizes and builds and you have Zootropolis. Or Zootopia. Whatever. If you’ve a date in Zootopia, she’ll be waiting in Zootropolis.

Judy goes to the precinct where she meets receptionist Clawhauser (Nate Torrence) who enthusiastically welcomes her to the ZPD and then calls her “cute”. Judy gently corrects him that rabbits don’t like being called cute by other animals and Clawhauser is completely mortified.

"Oh my God oh my God this is worse than that time I said "Word up, my mazerunner" to that old mouse lady."

“Oh my God oh my God this is worse than that time I said “Word up, my mazerunner” to that old mouse lady.”

Anyway, they smooth things over, no harm no foul, and Judy goes to her first roll call. Judy’s new boss is Chief Bogo, a cape buffalo voiced by Idris Motherfucking Elba. Bogo tells the assembled cops that there are fourteen missing mammal cases currently on the books and assigns thirteen to all the officers and then…sticks Judy with parking ticket duty. Judy is incenced, telling Bogo that she was first in her class and that she can handle one of the missing mammal cases Bogo instead tells her to write a hundred parking tickets and Judy decides that she’s going to write two hundred. Before noon. Now, part of me thinks that Bogo is not being unreasonable here. It is after all, her first day on the job and a missing mammal case is probably a bit much for an unpartnered rookie to handle. But as the movie makes it pretty clear later on, he really does think she’s incompetent just because she’s a rabbit.  Speaking of mammals, one of the things that sets this movie apart from other athropomorphised animal stories like Robin HoodChicken Little or, hell, even Fritz the Cat is that there are no bird, reptile or any non-mammalian characters. This bugged some fans of the movie but personally I love it because it neatly resolves a very big problem that these kinds of stories always throw up; namely, that in a world where the predators have to get along with prey then what the hell do they eat? If we just assume that birds and fish are non-sentient in this world then it’s simple, they’re eating roast chicken like any sensible creature.

Anyway, while out ticketing, Judy sees a suspicious looking fox skulking around an elephant ice cream parlour. I mean, it’s an ice-cream parlour where ice-cream is served by elephants, not ice-cream made from elephants unless this movie has a much darker underbelly than I thought.  She goes in after him assuming that he’s up to no good but instead the fox, whose name is Nick Wilde (Jason Batemen) is just trying to buy a massive jumbo pop for his adorable son, Finnick. The elephant store owner refuses to sell to him because he’s a fox and Judy is so disgusted at his racist (specist? vulpist? predaphobic?) behaviour that she forces the owner to sell Nick the jumbo pop by threatening to cite him for health code violations and even spots Nick the fifteen dollars when it turns out he doesn’t have his wallet. Nick thanks her for her help and she says that he’s a great Dad and a “real articulate fellah” and goes back to work, no doubt looking forward to the self-aggrandising Tumblr post she’ll be making about this later.

But later, she sees Nick and Finnick melting the jumbo pop down for juice, driving to Tundra Town, freezing the juice into dozens of smaller ice pops that he then sells on the streets for two dollars a…pop. He then sells the sticks to a rodent building site for lumber. Furious and disappointed, Judy confronts Nick who calmly explains that he did absolutely nothing illegal and also that no one will ever take her seriously as a cop and that she’d better bust go back home and farm carrots before she suffers a complete emotional breakdown and ends up living under a bridge like a troll. Jason Batman is just perfect casting in this part, his dry deadpan delivery just meshes perfectly with the character. In fact, when he first came into read for the part he asked the directors what kind of voice they wanted him to do and they just said “what the fuck are you talking about, just talk. Just be you. Just do the “Jason Bateman” voice.” I also find it weird that an actor with such a distinctive voice has done almost no voice work. This is the first animated movie he’s appeared in in almost a decade. Why did it take him so long to venture back into animation?

Ah. Say no more.

Ah. Say no more.

Thoroughly demoralised, Judy goes back to her tiny apartment and has to endure a Skype call with her parents where they’re overjoyed that she’s a meter maid and “not a real cop”. Her next day goes even worse, with Judy just about ready to pack it in and go home, but a nearby green grocers gets robbed by a weasel and she heads off in hot pursuit. The weasel (Alan Tudyk), leads her into Little Rodentia, a normal sized town for the normal sized residents of Zootropolis where they can live without worrying about being trodden on by the other over-sized freaks. Wait a minute…Alan Tudyk is the weasel? Disney, you cunning bastard.

"Do you like my puzzle, Mouse?"

“Do you like my puzzle, Mouse?”

Okay, under Tudyk’s Law if Alan Tudyk is playing a character who is obviously the villain, it’ll turn out that he’s not actually the villain. But if he’s playing a character who’s seemingly a minor good character then he will be the villain. Which means that if he’s playing a minor villain he must therefore be…a minor villain working for the true villain who we previously thought was a minor good character.

"Dammit how do you DO that?!"

“Dammit how do you DO that?!”

Anyway, the two of them chase each other around like Godzilla and Mothra and Judy saves a shrew named Fru Fru from being crushed by a massive donut thrown by the weasel. Judy brings the weasel in but instead of praising her, Bogo chews her out for abandoning her post, endangering rodents and inciting a scurry. All very serious, ESPECIALLY, those last two. You’ve never been in a scurry man, you don’t know.  Judy tells Bogo that she wants to be a real cop and Bogo replies “Life isn’t some cartoon musical where you sing a little song and your insipid little dreams magically come true. Now Let. It. Go.”

"Well. THAT came out of fucking nowhere." "Meh. Haters gonna hate."

“Well. THAT came out of fucking nowhere.”
“Meh. Haters gonna hate.”

Damn though. Someone’s throwing shade like a cactus. It’s also kinda weird that it’s Frozen that’s the butt of that particular joke. Snow White or Cinderella? Sure, but why Frozen? Elsa and Anna had to work their asses off to get their happy ending. It’s kinda like a joke that would be made by someone who hadn’t actually seen the movie never mind a studio that had actually made the movie. Anyway, they’re interrupted by Mrs Otterton, the wife of one of the missing animals. Bogo explans to her that they’re doing all that they can but that they don’t have any detectives who can look at her husband’s case. Judy offers to take the case and Bogo asks Mrs Otterton to wait outside and closes the door. He then tells Judy that she’s fired. And…yeah, that’s completely deserved. You can’t just undercut your boss’s authority like that, no matter how big a dick he is. That was completely out of line. Bogo tells Judy that she is going to explain to Mrs Otterton that she can’t take the case but when they open the door Mrs Otterton is already talking to Assistant Mayor Bellwether who is delighted to hear that Judy will be taking the case and that this is proof that Mayor Lionheart’s Mammal Inclusion Initiative is already paying dividends. Bellwether tells Judy that she’s always got a friend in city hall and vamooses. Bogo tells Judy that he will give her forty eight hours to solve the case but that if she doesn’t she has to resign and Judy agrees.

Obama Gif

No Judy. No, no, no. You do not need to take that deal. Here, let me just draft something for you.

"Actually Chief, I have a counter proposal. Since I clearly have enough pull at City Hall to get your ass made into buffalo flavour Hunky Dories how about you give me however long I need to crack this damn case and a piggy back ride to work every day. And I mean every day. Like, until you die."

“Actually Chief, I have a counter proposal. Since I clearly have enough pull at City Hall to get your ass made into buffalo flavour Hunky Dories how about you give me however long I need to crack this damn case and a piggy back ride to work every day. And I mean every day. Like, until you die.”

Turns out the Otterton case has zero leads, zero witnesses and zero evidence with the exception of one photo that proves that Emmet Otterton bought an ice pop from Nick. Judy tracks Nick down and forces him to help her investigate the case when she surreptitiously records him bragging about how much money he makes with his ice pop hustle despite the fact that he’s declared zero income taxes.

"Crap. Just like how they got Capone."

“Crap. Just like how they got Capone.”

After a brief detour to a nudist club which raises serious questions as to how animals reproduce in this world considering no one seems to have genitalia of any kind whatsoever, they learn that Otterton got into a silver limousine and and are even able to get a licence plate number. Unfortunately, Judy isn’t even set up on the ZPD’s computer system so she can’t run the plate, but Nick has a friend in the DMV so they go there. This leads to the sequence at the DMV where it’s revealed that all the staff are sloths that made up one entire trailer in the run up to the movie’s release and it’s a great example of an obvious joke that works through the quality of the execution. It’s just the facial animation and the vocal delivery that makes the whole scene gold, even if  “the lines are slow at the DMV” is about as sharp a comedic insight as “airline food, not so good”. (By the way, it’s a cliché but by God it’s true. I had some chicken on the flight over to New York and I swear to God my stomach felt like a haunted house for days after. Like, I hadn’t just eaten something bad. An atrocity had been committed there and its malign influence lingered on…). The stop at the DMV takes so long that when they finally find the limo rental place that the silver limo came from, it’s closed and locked up. Judy accuses Nick of wasting the day on purpose but he says that he’s honoured his half of the deal and demands that she hands over the dictaphone pen that she’s recorded his confession on. Instead, she throws the pen over the fence into the limo rental yard forcing him to climb over the fence to get it, which gives Judy probable cause to break into the limo rental without a warrant. El-ahrairah himself would be proud.

They find the limo and inside, sure enough, is Emmet Otterton’s wallet and a whole bunch of claw marks indicating that something rather nasty went down inside that car. Nick panics when he realises who the car belongs to and tells Judy that they have to get out of there NOW. Too late, they get captured by two polar bear heavies and brought to Tundra Town where they are brought before Mr Big, the biggest crime boss in Zootropolis.

Shrew

The fact that Mr Big is a shrew is kind of brilliant aside from the obvious joke because, despite, their tiny size, shrews are some of the most voracious predators on earth. They’re fucking vicious. Mr Big is voiced by Maurice La Marche, doing a slightly more intelligible version of his Godpigeon voice from Animaniacs. Mr Big tells Nicky that he disrespected him by selling him a rug made from the but of a skunk which he then buried his grandmother in. And we then cut to a shrine to of Mr Big’s grandmother while one of the polar bear guards blesses himself with the sign of the cross. So…there are no humans in this world but Christianity still exists? Fascinating. I wonder what species Jesus was. There’s probably huge theological debates as to whether he was a lion or a lamb.

Mr Big orders Judy and Nick iced (that is literally drowned in ice water) but Fru Fru suddenly appears in her wedding dress and scolds Mr Big (her Dad) for icing people on her wedding day. She then recognises Judy and tells her father that Judy saved her life and in gratitude Mr Big instead invites both Nick and Judy to the wedding. Sidenote, the relationship between Fru Fru and Judy is one of my favourite things in the whole movie, they’re just so sweet to each other.
Anyway, as all the shrews dance on a table while the polar bears stand guard and try no to think about how they look like little hors deurves, Mr Big tells Judy about what happened to Emmet Otterton. See, Otterton was Mr Big’s florist and he was contracted to do the flowers for Fru Fru’s wedding. But, while being driven back home, Emmet suddenly went berserk and attacked Mr Big’s chauffeur.
Ah, there’s that good old timey Disney terror.

Ah, there’s that good old timey Disney terror.

Yeah, so it turns out the claw marks in the back of the limo wasn’t caused by something attacking Otterton, but by Otterton himself. Judy asks what could have caused Emmet to suddenly go blood crazy and Mr Big answers “We may be evolved, but deep down, we’re still animals.”
“Now if you’ll excuse me, I must go and devour twice my own body weight in raw meat.”

“Now if you’ll excuse me, I must go and devour twice my own body weight in raw meat.”

Judy and Nick head to the rainforest district to talk with Manchas, Mr Big’s driver, a black jaguar voiced by Jesse Corti. Manchas is clearly still shaken from Otterton’s attack, and says that the otter was ranting about “Night Howlers”. They ask to come in and talk and he agrees but when he closes the door to unlock they hear him give a yell of pain. Manchas suddenly goes completely savage and chases them to the rainforest, roaring incoherently.
“THE MAN CUB MUST GO BACK TO THE MAN VILLAGE!”

“THE MAN CUB MUST GO BACK TO THE MAN VILLAGE!”

Judy just about manages to save Nick from being eaten by handcuffing Manchas to a bridge. But by the time the cops arrive led by Bogo, Manchas has disappeared. Bogo suggests that Judy simply imagined that Manchas had gone savage because she’s a rabbit and any large predator must look savage to her (wow) and she tells him that Nick can corroborate her story and Bogo says that he’s not going to believe anything a fox says (double wow). Bogo tells Judy that she’s fired and Nick, who up until now has only been reluctantly going alone with Judy’s investigation steps in and points out that they still have ten hours to crack the case and that Bogo can go chew a cud consisting entirely of dicks. They then ride off together in a rainforest cable car and my God this scene.
Cable car
It’s beautiful. The music, the soft lighting, the atmosphere of wistful melancholy. It’s “Chihiro and No-Face on the train” good.
 
Nick tells Judy that he learned long ago not to let people’s prejudices get to him. In flashback we see that as a cub, Nick wanted to become the first fox to join the Junior Ranger Scouts. When he showed up to be initiated, the other kids instead beat him up and put a muzzle on him. From that day on, Nick decided that if the whole world was just going to see him as an untrustworthy criminal, he might as well lean into it and make some cash. Nick and Judy hit on the idea of checking on footage from the nearby traffic cameras to track what happened to Manchas. They head to city hall where Bellwether helps them check the traffic data and they see that Manchas was abducted by two wolves. Figuring that these were the “Night Howlers” that Otterton told Manchas about, they track the wolves’ van to an Obviously Evil Asylum and sneak in.
 
There, they find all fourteen of the missing feral animals as well as Manchas. Judy and Nick hide when they hear someone coming and are shocked to see that the person behind these abductions is Mayor Lionheart. But as they listen in to Lionheart’s conversation with the doctor running the asylum they learn that Lionheart doesn’t actually know why Manchas, Otterton and the other predators have gone missing, he’s just holding them here until they can be cured so that the city doesn’t fly into a panic. Problem though, the doctor can’t figure out any explanation for their behaviour other than “Predators be crazy, amirite?”. The doctor suggests that they have to go public and he asks how she thinks the public will react when they learn that their predator mayor might go crazy and start chowing down on the electorate without warning. The doctor insists that they have to tell the people of Zootropolis and begs Lionheart not to be like the mayor from Jaws.
 
“NEVER COMPARE ME TO THE JAWS MAYOR!”

“NEVER COMPARE ME TO THE JAWS MAYOR!”

 
Sidenote; so the new Ghostbusters was kinda awesome, right?
Nick and Judy are discovered but manage to escape by flushing themselves down a toilet and Judy calls it in. Mayor Lionheart is arrested and Judy is declared a hero by the ZPD for solving fourteen missing mammal cases and also for issuing enough parking tickets to reverse the city’s budget deficit. Nick tells Judy that he’s proud of her and she gives him an application form for the Police Academy, saying he has the makings of a great cop.
He rocks the look, no doubt.

He rocks the look, no doubt.

 
Now, this is where a lesser movie would end. Nick and Judy have learned an important lesson about not judging people by their appearances, the predators get cured, everyone sings kumbaya, the end.
 
This is not that movie.
 
Judy gives a press conference, telling increasingly panicky reporters that predators in Zootropolis have started going savage due to their “biological instincts” while onscreen images flash of feral predators being dragged away with leads and muzzles. After the press conference, Nick confronts Judy and he is not happy.
 
"What. The. Close. Up. Mouth. Whore. FUCK?!"

“What. The. Close. Up. Mouth. Whore. FUCK?!”

 
Judy says that she just stated the facts of the case and Nick asks if that’s how she sees him.
 
JUDY: “Nick, stop it, you’re not like them.”
 
NICK: “Oh there’s a THEM now?”
 
It gets worse. Nick storms off in disgust and the media tries to spin it that he threatened Judy.
 
It gets worse. Judy gets promoted but Clawhauser now has to work in the archives because the ZPD doesn’t want a predator as its public face.
 
It gets worse. The attacks keep happening. More predators go insane, more prey animals get mauled. The media starts calling for a mandatory quarantine on predators.
 
It gets worse. Predators start being looked at suspiciously on public transport. Prey animals don’t trust their friends and neighbours anymore.
 
It gets worse. A peace rally organised by singer Gazelle (Shakira) descends into violence. A puma is told to go back to the rainforest. She’s lived in the savannah her whole life.
 
And if any of this is starting to feel sickeningly familiar, it’s only because you’re paying attention.
 
The day I finally watched Zootropolis, a suicide bomber injured fifteen people in Ansbach. It was the fourth terrorist attack in Germany in a span of ten days. And I grew up in Ireland in the eighties. I know what it’s like to have every day bring some variation of “bombing/shooting, suspects, wounded, dead”. And I know how every attack chips away a little at your reason, your courage, your compassion and your trust. Your willingness to believe in the good in other people. Every attack takes away a little of what makes you human, and leaves only the things that make you an animal.
"We cannot let fear divide us. Please, give me back the Zootropolis I love."

“We cannot let fear divide us. Please, give me back the Zootropolis I love.”

"Preach."

“Preach.”

Bellwether, who is now Mayor, summons Judy and Bogo to her office. She tells Judy that she wants her to be the new face of the ZPD, as the prey population looks up to her a hero. Judy says “I came here to make the world a better place. But I think I broke it.” Bogo tells her that the world has always been broken and that that’s why they need good cops like her, but instead she resigns and goes back to farming  with her parents. While selling blueberries by the roadside she meets Gideon Grey, who’s now 1) All grown up, 2) her parents’ business partner and 3) no longer a massive douche. Her parents tell her that if Judy hadn’t opened their minds they never would have gone into business with a fox and Gideon apologises to Judy for hurting her when they were kids. Suddenly, some of Judy’s brothers and sisters come running up and Judy’s dad yells at them to steer clear of some purple flowers. When she asks why, he tells Judy that those flowers are toxic and that one time her uncle was poisoned by one and went beserk, actually biting her mother. Gideon says that the flowers are called “Night Howlers” and a big old lightbulb goes off over Judy’s head and she drives back to Zootropolis in her parents produce van. She tracks down Nick and tells that someone is poisoning predators with Night Howlers and asks for his help in stopping them.

JUDY: I know you’ll never forgive me. And I don’t blame you. I wouldn’t forgive me either. I was ignorant, and… irresponsible… and small-minded. But predators shouldn’t suffer because of my mistakes. I have to fix this. But I can’t do it without you. And… and after we’re done, you can hate me, and that’ll be fine, because I was a horrible friend, and I hurt you. And you… and you can walk away knowing you were right all along. I really am just a dumb bunny.

And my God but Ginnifer Godwin just nails this speech. It’s heartbreaking. It’s beautiful. It’s one of the best performances I’ve ever heard in an animated film. Listen to how she says “you can hate me, and that’ll be fine”. You can just hear the agony in her voice, because what she’s really saying is “you can hate me, and that will hurt more than anything in the world”.

And of course Nick has recorded her saying “I really am just a dumb bunny” and plays it over and over because let’s face it, he’s kinda earned this. Anyway, Judy realises that the weasel she caught stealing from the green grocer was stealing Night Howler bulbs so Nick helps her track him down. The weasel, Duke Weaselton (not Weselton) refuses to talk so they read him his rights, bring him in and interrogate him according to the FBI standard…naw, just kidding, Judy uses her underworld contacts to have Mr Big threaten Duke with a horrible death unless he spills the beans.

Jesus. I havent seen a good cop go bad so quick since Training Day.

Jesus. I haven’t seen a good cop go bad so quick since Training Day.

So Duke tells them that he sold the Night Howlers to a ram named Doug gives them the location of his hideout down in an abandoned subway station.  They find a secret lab where Doug is farming the Night Howlers and concentrating their venom.

Am I the only one who thinks sheep eyes are creepy?

Am I the only one who thinks sheep eyes are creepy?

They hear Doug talking to someone on the phone who apparently is running the operation. Doug, it seems, has been targeting predators on this person’s orders and shooting them with darts full of Night Howler venom. Judy and Nick grab Doug’s dart gun and the Night Howler venom and make their escape. They flee through the National History Museum when suddenly they meet Mayor Bellwether and two of her sheep guards. Judy explains what’s been happening and Mayor Bellwether tells her that she’s very proud of her and asks to see the case and Judy suddenly realises that the final villain hasn’t actually been revealed yet and there’s only about ten minutes left of run time and ohhhhhhhhh crap…

So...does she turn into a dragon now, or what?

So…does she turn into a dragon now, or what?

 Well sir, what we have here is your typical Redemption Era late-reveal twist villain and as usual it means that the price of not knowing who the villain is is that we basically don’t have a strong antagonist until the movie is almost over. For me, the only way this could have worked would be if it was a shocking twist that actually took me by surprise but, while I may have been caught flat-footed by Hans turning evil in Frozen, this one was pretty obvious. Think about it. It has to be a named character that we’ve already met, otherwise it’s not a twist. It can’t be a predator or that would undercut the movie’s whole message. It can’t be Bogo because for the reformed bigot who’s learned the error of his ways to turn out to be still a bigot is just unsatisfying. So that really only leaves Bellwether and Gazelle, and, no disrespect to Shakira, but playing the main villain is a bit of an ask for someone who’s not technically an actor.  So it’s got to be Bellwether and while it’s certainly interesting to have the baddie be a harmless looking little sheep, the shock wears off really quickly and you’re left with the fact that…yeah, the villain’s a harmless looking little sheep and it’s kind of hard to feel any sense of peril. Anyway, they get chased by Bellwether’s rams but end up dropping the case and falling into a stone age exhibit which is in a large pit in the floor. Bellwether shoots Nick with Night Howler serum which causes him to go savage. I’m guessing this scene is why the movie has a PG rating as much as the fairly heavy subject matter. Watching an adorable Disney cartoon animal turning into a feral snarling predator is actually pretty darn creepy. Bellwether monologues that her as long as she can keep the population afraid of the “preds” she’ll be able to stay in power saying: “Fear always wins.”

tRUMP PENCE

And then Nick leaps at Judy’s throat.

And then she starts hamming it up for everything she’s worth, just like in the school play all those years ago. See, it turns out that Nick switched the serum with the blueberries from Judy’s farm and that they’ve just recorded Bellwether’s entire confession with Judy’s dictaphone pen. Bogo and the rest of the ZPD cops arrive and arrest Bellwether and things slowly start to return to normal. The predators are cured and Lionheart gives an interview where he claims that Bellwether lied to him and that the only reason that he lied to the people of Zootropolis was to protect them.

"And so you see, we are all part of the Great Circle of Lies."

“And so you see, we are all part of the Great Circle of Lies.”

The movie ends with Judy and Nick (now a ZPD officer) on patrol on the streets of Zootropolis.

NICK: You know you love me.

JUDY: Do I know that? Yes, yes I do.

"Aaaaaaand let the shipping wars commence."

“Aaaaaaand let the shipping wars commence.”

"So, whaddya think Cherny?"

“So, whaddya think Cherny?”

"IT ISSSS A WONDERFUL FILM, FULL OF LAUGHSSSSS AND HEART AND AN IMPORTANT MESSSSSAGE. BUT IT WILL NOT GIVE ME MY ARMY OF FURRIESSSSS!"

“IT ISSSS A WONDERFUL FILM, FULL OF LAUGHSSSSS AND HEART AND AN IMPORTANT MESSSSSAGE. BUT IT WILL NOT GIVE ME MY ARMY OF FURRIESSSSS!”

"Oh for the love of...fine, Ill throw in a dance party at the end with a gazelle lady and lots of sexy, sexy tigers."

“Oh for the love of…fine, I’ll throw in a dance party at the end with a gazelle lady and lots of sexy, sexy tigers.”

Yup. Thatll do it.

Yup. That’ll do it.

***

What makes Zootopia/Zootropolis work so well (and it works like gangbusters) is that, aside from little things like fantastic animation, brilliant performances and an awesome soundtrack, it keeps its message and themes firmly rooted in the narrative and characters. The movie doesn’t grind to a halt just so Judy Hopp’s can LEARN AN IMPORTANT LESSON ABOUT RACISM, she has to learn to let go of her prejudices in order to solve the case and discover the real cause behind the attacks. In this way, the audience becomes not simply intellectually invested in watching her journey, but emotionally and viscerally invested as well. It’s anti-racist in the same way that Fury Road is feminist, letting the story carry the message rather than stopping the story to declare the message from a soapbox. This is a wonderful movie, highly recommended.

And needless to say, it's better than Disney's last attempt at tackling racism with a cartoon fox and rabbit.

And, needless to say, it’s better than Disney’s last attempt at tackling racism with a cartoon fox and rabbit.

Scoring

Animation: 18/20

Damn near fur-fect. I…I just wrote that.

Leads: 20/20

The central relationship is funny, charming, tender and amazingly deep and complex for an animated kid’s movie. Hell, for a movie, period.

Villain: 13/20

See, this is the problem with using a twist-villain, we don’t actually get to see them as a villain until the very end. There’s potentially a very interesting antagonist buried under Bellwether’s wool but because her identity and motives are kept a mystery until the very end we never really get to find out what makes her tick.

Supporting Characters: 17/20

There’s no stand out supporting character really, no Maximus or Genie, but that’s because the two leads fulfil the role that would normally be taken by the supporting characters in an older Disney movie. This is basically a movie where the funny comedy relief animals get to take centre stage. That said, the supporting cast is funny, wonderfully varied and gorgeously designed.

Music: 15/20

Damn it Shakira, if you don’t get out of my head soon Imma start charging you rent.

FINAL SCORE: 83%

NEXT UPDATE: 25 August 2016

NEXT TIME: I’ll be reviewing one of the most beloved animated series of the nineties about a grim, brooding, bat-like figure who protects his crime-ridden city (known as “Gotham” to its residents) from a colourful rogues gallery of super criminals, evil geniuses and monsters. 

What? Who did you think I was talking about?

What? Who did you think I was talking about?

Neil Sharpson aka the Unshaved Mouse is a playwright, comic book writer and blogger based in Dublin. The blog updates with a new review every second Thursday. Original artwork for this blog was commissioned from the oh-so talented Julie Android, whose artwork is now available for purchase on T-Shirts, mugs, hoodies and more at the Unshaved Mouse online store. Check it out!

97 comments

  1. Nope, you’re not the only one creeped out by sheep eyes. And my cousin was one of the composers for Arthur and the Invisibles.

  2. I loved this movie so much that I bought it the instant it came out on DVD. I haven’t done that with a Disney movie since Wreck-It Ralph.

  3. Waitaminute… John Lennon beat his wife?

    And wow, this movie sounds a lot more interesting now that I know what it’s actually about. I’m just starting to redevelop an interest in cop/urban crime stories, and Disney has never put out enough of those for my tastes.

    Even without seeing it, though, I agree – I’m rather sick of all these third-act twist villains. What’ll it take to finally get another Maleficient or Shan-Yu, a baddie who doesn’t tiptoe around any of the good guys because they know they’re the biggest game in town?

    (So was the Ghostbusters line just another joke, or…?)

      1. I should’ve appended that complaint with *Disney* villains. I haven’t seen any of the Despicable Me movies, but I suspect their villains are played mostly for laughs. Meanwhile, Dr. Facilier never really moved beyond being a catspaw for the Friends, and the whole impersonate-a-prince plot is arguably tiptoeing.

        But good recommendation on Kai – I haven’t seen any any Kung Fu Pandas past the first, but I’ll definitely pick that one up.

  4. This movie was amazing, hands down. One of the best looking animated movies I’ve ever seen, and with characters I truly loved.

    Great to have you back, Mouse!

  5. Nice review. I admit, I never expected this subject matter; with a name like “Zootopia” I expected it to be a fairly standard cute animal story. Needless to say, I never so much as glanced at the movie before now. 😑

  6. Great review! You really nailed why this movie works so well, especially in this day and age.
    I will say that I think the “Let It Go” joke isn’t a target at Frozen as much as it’s a self-aware jab at Disney themselves, like they know how wildly popular the movie and especially the song have gotten.

    Funny, I was gonna review this movie when I came back from my hiatus next month, but it looks like you beat me to it. Still, there’s a lot to talk about when it comes to Zootopia, and that’s a good thing. Looking forward to your Gargoyles review!

  7. Great review, but on that side note, I didn’t like the new Ghostbusters.
    But as for this movie, I thought it was great! I think it gives a good twist on the talking animal movie formula, with how the world is set up and that the movie’s message isn’t one you’d expect from a talking animal movie.
    I slightly disagree about what you said about having a twist villain. While Bellwhether, admittedly, aren’t as enjoyable as your typical Scar or Maleficent, it still makes the movie interesting on re-watch to see just how much of a master mind she truly was, similar to Hans.

      1. On another side note, before this movie came out, I heard people complain about how Disney is “pandering” to the furries, saying “Oh, furries ruin everything!” I myself am no furry, but I think that particular fandom gets way too much hate.

  8. I actually had a conversation with fellow furries about what animal Jesus would’ve been if he exists in Zootopia/tropolis. No joke.

      1. I think we concluded he’d either be a lion or a lamb, like you suggested. Also, no prob with the furry jokes. There’s a reason THIS is the quote on the TV Tropes page for the Furry Fandom: “When people hate, I just remember, we’re furries, we embarrass ourselves every day! What can people say to make it worse?” – Roxy Rat.

  9. Oh man, I’ve been waiting all week to finally read another Disney review from you, Mouse! As always, you didn’t disappoint. 🙂

    Based on the teasers, I wasn’t particularly interested in seeing Zootopia, but after hearing how well-received it was I decided to rent it when it came out. I was completely blown away. The animation is GORGEOUS, the use of the biomes in Zootopia gives the city such a vibrant and unique character, and the way the animators added little touches to each animal (such as making Judy’s nose twitch) just makes the animation that much more impressive. It’s great to see Disney trying to present a different message, as well. It just might be my favourite film of the Restoration Era thus far.

    My only real complaint is the twist. Disney, you can’t use the “villain twist” idea for four movies in a row (?) and expect us to still be surprised by the big reveal. At this point, it’s getting rather old. Hopefully Moana will avoid this.

      1. From what I’ve heard, it’ll be a witch/goddess made entirely out of lava. Kind of hard to spin that into an expected-unexpected third act villain, but I guess we’ll find out.

      2. “And so you see, heroes, I was secretly made out of lava this whole time!” “Wow, that seems incredibly far-fetched.” “Who cares, you only came to this thing to listen to Lin Manuel Miranda anyway!”

      3. There is both a giant crab and a lava-goddess, not sure which is the main villain or if they are working together.

  10. I’ll admit that I saw Bellwether coming a mile away, but once she actually goes into action I found her kind of terrifying. The coldness of the way she orders Nick and Judy’s deaths and the implication that she was just gonna sit there and watch Nick maul Judy… she may have only been openly a villain for a few seconds, but she made those seconds count.
    Yeah, I enjoyed Ghostbusters, but I think I was the only one of my friends who did.

  11. I KNEW you were going to tie this movie to the 2016 election in some way, shape, or form. In fact, when I first saw this movie a short time ago, I was thinking “I would be surprised if Mouse didn’t somehow relate this movie to this year’s presidential election”. And you did.

    Anyway, I really enjoyed this movie. People are saying that Disney is the new Pixar of this generation, and I can see why. Last decade, the 2000s, Pixar was cranking out hits and Disney the failures. Now, in the 2010s, it’s the other way around. Okay, maybe Pixar’s movies aren’t BAD, per se, but their films haven’t been quite the same. I myself haven’t really loved a Pixar film since Ratatouille.

    I too really enjoyed the apology scene. It’s funny you should mention Ginnifer Goodwin’s performance in that scene because according to her and the directors, she actually DID break down crying while recording this scene. A little more on it here: http://skunkandburningtires.tumblr.com/post/145708129274/ginnifer-goodwin-shares-the-tearful-tale-behind

    Ahhh, Gargoyles. The show praised by many (sans Bruce Timm). The show similar in tone to Batman: The Animated Series. The show…….. I never watched as a kid. (cue collective gasps from the audience) I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the series before you were requested to review it, but I hear it’s good. Though to be honest, I was kinda hoping that Hunchback 2 won the fan vote just so you’d have to review it. (Mouse summons Gargoyles to attack me) Uhhhhh… IIIIIIIIII think I’m gonna be going now (runs away with Gargoyles right on my tail)

    1. Sadly it doesn’t, considering the fact that they show the villain using 8 inch floppy disks in the first few episodes. Yes, that’s what those big square things Xanatos had Goliath and company steal from Bernard’s company.

      God I feel old…

  12. An excellent review. This might just be me, but you seem rather more…animated, if you’ll pardon the pun, when you’re doing reviews on Disney animated movies as opposed to Marvel superhero movies.

    As for Zootopia, the movie made me horrified in a way that no other Disney movie has: it was immediate and relevant. So goddamned relevant. There was a brilliance and wit in the execution of the film that really made me care, and then the gloves came off for the press conference.

    We might not have really known Bellwether then, let alone her connection to the plot, so I admit it makes no sense to say that that was The Moment. But for me, that was it.

    The film did pick back up afterwards, and did it well, but I think that when I look back on the film, that–and its aftermath–will be the moment I really remember.

    1. Actually yeah. There are little bits that make more sense after a rewatch. Like when Bellwether says Judy “did fine” after the press conference. At first you think she’s just oblivious but then you realise Judy “did fine” because she perfectly advanced Bellwether ‘s scheme. With the Disney reviews there tends to be more that ties back to older reviews which gives me more opportunities for callbacks and running gags.

  13. I tell you, they are eating Soylent Green! There is a whole farm somewhere for the production.

    Honestly, I wish I could call Ansbach or any of the prior incidents in Bavaria Terrorist attacks. Because that would be somehow easier to deal with, since there are ways to figure out a cell in advance. It feels like something you can prevent if you just pay enough attention. But random people doing a spree killing for a random reason? I don’t think that any of those attacks were actually planned in the sense that there were people working with terrorists, they were just people who hated their life and decided to go out with a bang. And that’s way more terrifying, because how can you protect yourself from that? I am just glad that it is a little bit harder for a normal person to get their hands on a weapon like it is in the US.

    I am wondering if the whole thing with Fox spray is a very settled criticism on the weapon lobby btw.

    I like Zootopia (which for some reason is called Zoomania in my country…honestly, what is wrong with those marketing people? It is not like Utopia isn’t a word in Germany, and the city is still named Zootopia in the movie), but I admit, I don’t love it. I love the main character, but I actually figured out the “twist villain” the moment she turned up on screen and kept waiting for the big reveal. I really, really miss the classic Disney villain…we didn’t get one since Tangled, that’s way too long to go without their over-the-top evilness.

    1. Yeah, though I kind of think King Candy was a nice balance of the two somewhat, he was a twist villain but he was also semi over the top and knowing his motivation due to his actions and his backstory, he definitely an interesting parallel to Ralph. But yeah, we need to bring back the Maleficients, the Scars, the Urselas, and the Frollos to the Disney canon.

  14. My jaw literally dropped in the theater when I saw the “cute” part with Clawhouser. Could not believe they were doing that. And then they just kept building on that theme, it was absolutely incredible to see Disney really tackle such a political issue like that.

    I think this is my favorite Disney movie since Lilo and Stitch, it’s just so damn great the whole way through.

    1. It’s definitely something that basically every American will get, but people from other countries might not. Are you American?

      1. I’m American, but I still didn’t get it, lol. The only thing I can seem to come close to it is racial epithets, in particular, the “n” word. So, are we saying that “cute” to bunnies is equivalent to a racial epithet? I don’t know.

  15. I’ve basically accepted that I’m Zootopia’s b*tch at this point. I loved this movie so much. SO MUCH. I want SEQUELS! AND A SPINOFF CRIME SHOW! Could you imagine it? Zootopia: Paw & Order. XD Also thanks for the shout out. 🙂

  16. Given that I really did like this film and think it was very well executed, I’m really starting to notice a pattern with the Redemption Era films, think about it, other than the twist villains we have a formula where two different characters who have to team up and go on this journey. At first, these two characters don’t really like each other but as the journey goes on they start to understand one another and eventually become friends until the third act comes around and they’re not friends due to some misunderstanding but eventually they make up, beat the villain, and the day is saved and etc. Now I’m not saying every Redemption Era film does this but they all at least have similar story beats and plot concepts despite in a different context. I’m also not saying all of them do this badly, all of them do it well enough and the characters are still strong, it’s just something I’m really noticing considering I kind of don’t want this studio to rely on the Pixar formula too hard considering a good chunk of Pixar’s film have a very similar formula in their stories. That being said, I’m still greatly excited for Disney’s upcoming films such as Moana, Wreck it Ralph 2, Giant, and some others.

  17. You see, I really liked Mayor Bellweather. And yeah, the whole twist villain thing in Disney movies really needs to die, but at least this one was a buddy-cop mystery. It made sense for there to be a twist villain. Now, while I liked King Candy (who was already established as a funny character) and tolerated the villain from Big Hero 6 and Frozen, I am hoping that we see more Gothels and Faciliers sometime in the future. We need some good villain designs, and we already know that only non-Pixar Disney can pull that off.

  18. The zoo is indeed responsible for the name change – indirectly. Disney couldn’t care less about the zoo itself, but they (being the world’s greatest merchandising company) care very much that the zoo holds the EU trademark for clothing with the word “Zootopia” on it.

  19. Great review, Mouse! Glad to see you back. 🙂 I love this movie. Disney has definitely hit their stride again recently. I hope they continue for a good few more movies before their star dips again.

    I agree with everything you said about Bellweather. She was definitely the weakest part of the movie for me. Not that she was terrible or anything buuut I’m really hankering for some good ol’ timey wicked Disney baddies. The Ursulas, the Jafars, the Maleficents who were bad to the bone and loved every minute of it. I hope we get a good villain in Moana to scratch that itch.

    The only part of the movie I didn’t like (as opposed to Bellweather who was just “meh”) was the parts with Mr. Big. In a movie all about stereotypes and making assumptions based on race, etc. did they really have to go with the stereotypical Italian mob boss? Also his daughter had Snooki hair. So our two Italian characters are a mobster and a reference to Jersey Shore. In a movie about prejudice. Pretty hypocritical, Disney. Also was no one else bothered that Judy was colluding with mobsters? What are she and Nick going to do after the movie’s over? Either they become dirty cops and look the other way or they arrest him, bust his crime ring and that sweet relationship with his daughter you mentioned goes down the toilet.

    Aside from that, this movie is gold star standand and I’m glad you liked it too. :>

    1. I found Judy’s relationship with Mr. Big, really awkward too. Still, as a cop, now she has an ace up her sleeve for leads on crimnals.

  20. Several things…

    First Off I love your reviews but I will never forgive you for giving this movie less than a 90% you rodent nave.

    This movie should win an award for pitch perfect timing. This movie would be great with just teh grat characters and agile story, but its the stories relevence to the real world that I feel make it a disnkey classic. I remember when the Press Conference seen took place, I had the wind knocked out of me I had no idea that Disney would ever have the balls to discuss topics this mature and controversial. I seriously suggest you watch the process on which they built the ideas of zootopia on, it is quite amazing.

    Zootopia discussed the subjec of racsism in a way in which aldults could appreciate and children could understand. It goes a LOT father than just “prejudice is bad.” With its micro-agressions ( i died when she said “articulate fella”), work discrimination, unfainess in media naratives (maube zootopia could actually have “fox” news), police proflng, the conflicts of minorities in power, and really showing exactly HOW unfairly persisting judgment on someone can hurt people.

    My heart broke in the scene with clawhauser being forced to move to the boiler room as it was perfect because the audience saw a happy, helpful. friendly, non-theatening whatsoever worker, be treated like a criminal. That and Nick’s childhood scene, were both so powerful.

    Then there is Judy and I LOVE Nick and Judy as a couple! I love the Character arch and desighn and NIck! Hr was so entertaining, but this stroy is about Judy. She changes the most. I LOVE how they gave Judy a flaw beyond just “gullible” as we see in other movies. She truyly believes her self to be free from prjudice, but through the course of the movie she comes to turn that she is biased. A great message for the audience that we can have our preconceived biases to other groups, with out evening knowing it.

    As for Mayor Bellwether, I was SO hopping you would award her with the MOMENT. Bellwether is very much like Hans 2.0. She has a clear goal to gaining politcle power, which is using demogogery and the peoples prejudice to fear an enemy. I thought she was the perfect villian, because she was just so terrifyingly REAL, especaillay with whats happeing here in America, with Donald Trump. Her little monalouge with Judy is differnet than any other villain we have ever witnessed. No magic spells or potions, but using a broken system to enact war against a minority group for the sake of gaining power.
    Then theres the part where Judy says, ‘what are you going to do kill me?” “No, he is.” Its the perfect murder scene and if THAT is not the moment, than the point where she says “[Your plan] wont work” Bellwether rsponds saying “fear ALWAYS works.”

    I think THAT should be her “moment” becasue it shows how trully twisted she is. She is allowing an entire group of animals to suffer while using fear as a method of keeping the animals divided just to stay in power. Like I said, its scary becasue it is real.

    But zootopia is deifnalty my favorite movie of prehaps all time. I ship Nick and Judy and in the future would love to see some mentions of the oppresion of interacial species. Thats if the show gets its own spin off series, (which would be awesome) or a sequel, which is likely..I loved the musicle score, espically “rry everything.”

    Try evrything perfect captures what this movie is about, not just about prejudice agasint others, but prejudice against yourself. Its about going into the world and rejected and label or limitation or defiition of yourslef that the world may try to place on yourself. Its about embracing YOUR definition of yourself, In some waysm this song replaces “when you wish upon a star” because instad of promising your dreams come true by wishing, it says you should try evrything and accpet fauilures but dont let that stop you,

    Zootpia is a beautfuk movie and you are a beautiful writer. And I cant wait to see you review Moana, however it has a lot to live up too with Frozen and Zootopia.

    1. That’s fair enough. But in order to crack ninety for me the movie would have to be near perfect in all five categories. The music’s good but it’s no Frozen or Jungle Book.

      1. That’s true but than again Zootopia isn’t a musical. It only has one song (which I think was pretty great, I jammed out to it in the movie theater three times already) But the movie relied more on the dark setting, and dilouge between the characters along with their facial expressions (which I think they nailed) than songs designed to explain the characters feelings and to explain the plot.
        The score wasn’t exactly my favorite, but it did seem to be mesmerizing and lay down a city feeling.
        Forgive me for dare speaking out of line, your unshaviness, but perhaps their could be another factor when comparing non-musicles to musicles?

  21. I like the Disney Twist, because you can argue that it represents that evil cant be stereotyped. Wickedness can not be spotted a mile away. Sometimes the real villians in our lives are hiding underneath our noises, and we cant stop it. The things i liked about Bellwether is that her quarell wasn’t with Judy, in fact Judy was pretty much a God send for her. Bellwethr legitamlly like Judy, but Judy could not allow Bellwether plan to be carried out, even though it wouldnt have affected Judy, as she was prey. Judy is fascinating becasue she didnt fight for her happily ever after, she fought for the safety and security of Nick, Clawhausser and every other predator. Judy just got in the way. I just don’t think Bellwether gets enough credit. (Did anyone notice she had Doug’s number on a sticky note in her office when she was helping Nick and Judy.) I find Mayor Bellwether terrfying and a much more realistic villian than we have ever seen.
    There is just SO many amazing things about this movie that make it so great, especially after you watch it a few times and think about it in ways you never did before.

    1. Oooh! I did NOT catch that (but I figured Doug the ram was working with/for Ms. Bellweather the sheep. Seemed too much of a coincidence.)

  22. Great review, Mouse! I really loved this movie! It had great characters, a great story and much more. I was afraid I wouldn’t like it as much as everyone else, but I did, and I am glad that I did. 😀

  23. I felt like they left the “Big Mammals v. Small Mammals” issue unanswered. Despite the fact it looked like a real issue to me.
    According to Bellwether and Lionheart, Juddy’s graduation was significant because she was the first small mammal to become a cop. But while the establishment congratulates itself for its progressiveness, Juddy gets Bogo’s prejudice right in the face/muzzle.

    A more obvious example is Bellwether’s job. She’s the mayor’s assistant, chosen only to appeal to the “sheep vote”. Actually, she is scorned by her lion boss who doesn’t allow her to do anything important.
    Little animals are obviously prevented from reaching the highest levels of Zootopia. The only exception is Mr. Big who owes his success to illegal activities. And Bellwether only becomes mayor thanks to her lies. Like if crime was the only chance for small mammals to stand on equal standing with their predatory counterparts.

    Moreover, before the mad predators were revealed, we don’t see anyone looking down on big preds. Only small preds like foxes or weasels are openly discriminated by their fellow citizens.

    TL;DR: It would have been more logical for the villain to plot against big mammals instead of predators specifically.
    The only explanation I see is that she didn’t want to fight for “little guys” or preys in the first place, she just fought for herself. And racism/specism was the weapon she chose to take power. Sadly, it makes her generic power-hungry villain when we could have had a fluffy Magneto.

  24. So will you be reviewing ALL of “Gargoyles”, or just a specific episode? Looking forward to it either way, and love the clever joke about Christianity and the “lion and the lamb” reference.

  25. “I should’ve appended that complaint with *Disney* villains. I haven’t seen any of the Despicable Me movies, but I suspect their villains are played mostly for laughs.”

    You suspect correctly about the “Despicable Me” villains. If you don’t mind getting your fix from Disney TV, there are several non-secretive villains on “Wander Over Yonder” (I don’t if they’re still airing re-runs of the show, but you can find it online). There are even at least two episodes where the villain sings!

  26. If we just assume that birds and fish are non-sentient in this world then it’s simple, they’re eating roast chicken like any sensible creature.

    According to the director’s Twitter FAQ, there actually are intelligent birds, reptiles, and amphibians in this world. However, they do not live in Zootopia itself, but rather in other cities in other parts of the world. Fish and invertebrates, on the other hand, are not intelligent, and are used as sources of food.

      1. Not really. Keep in mind that the animal characters in Zootopia have their natural habits and environments taken into account. A city of birds, for example, would logically be designed for creatures that can fly–there would be no roads or walkways, and doors would be located off the ground. For a ground-dwelling mammal, such a city would surely be difficult to live or even move around in. It’s not a matter of segregation, it’s just a fact dictated by their anatomy.

  27. A few things:

    I rather like Philadelphia and Brokeback Mountain a lot and watch them whenever I see they’re on, thankyouverymuch. I don’t think they’re any kind of chore to sit through. And no, I’m not gay, not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    I thought the speech of Judy’s parents to her at the beginning was too forced, too heavily worded and awkwardly phrased in how obvious it was. Which is sad, because played more subtly it’d have worked wonderfully, but it was phrased so openly it seemed more like a parody of what it was trying to convey.

    When I saw the first set of images for the secondary characters, my first thought was ‘either the sheep or the cheetah are the actual villain. Most likely the sheep’. The SURPRISE! formula has become so overplayed so quickly by now it’s more like watching an episode of Scooby Doo. Whoop-dee-doo, let’s just pick the not obvious character and wait for them to be revealed as the person behind the monster’s mask.

    Which is funny, sort of, because right now we’re going through times where the bad guys are shamelessly obvious and proud of it in the real world. Like ISIS, who openly go on and on about how they hate us and won’t rest until they’ve subjected all women everywhere to abusive slavery and destroyed any large building not meant to compulsively pray to their God. Or like Trump, who can’t let go two whole sentences without slipping into manic compulsive bigotry.

  28. I want to know what would be your code for Alan Tudyk voicing an idiot rooster in Moana, share your wisdom mouse!

    I think the Let It Go joke was not mean spirited, after all in the end characters in this film got what they dreamed of and name dropping a beloved musical was a nod to that.

    The nudist animals would have been much better without showing that they have no genitalia or even buttholes. It is now annoying plot-hole when you could just had has some camera angles and animals with a lot of fur to make the same joke and it should not have been too dark (even if some people who always make articles about Disney sex references and “real world” theories about animal chactaers like Lion King and incest stuff would just have loved it).

    I do not know why Chief Bogo is so beloved, I did not find him cool or likable even if his charcater design and development were pretty nice.

    Shakira’s song was not that good imo and I knew who the villain was before even seeing the film by seeing the merchandise and who were the important characters. I though Lionheart would have been too ovious and rest too comedic looking. Still I liked her and Moana and Gigantic thankfully do not have twist villains.

  29. I deliberately held off reading this review until I had watched “Zootopia” (why yes, I HAVE been living under a mushroom for the past year!) and I’m so glad I did — it’s a lot easier to appreciate the humor when you already know the source material.

    I liked solving the mystery, and LOVED the relationship between Judy and Nick, and holy crap did Disney not pull any punches when it came to stereotyping and bigotry! It did shock me but it was a welcomed shock. On the other hand, the twist villain is getting a little old and you can put me on the list of people who’d like to see just one more Good Old Fashioned Old Timey Disney Villain (complete with a song in which they revel in their evilness!)

    But I’d like to address the elephant in the room (not you, Francine): did anyone else think the night howlers twist was a huge freaking plot hole? I mean, Judy grew up on a carrot farm where her dad uses the flowers as a bug repellent. Obviously her family is familiar enough with the plant that they know its uses as well as its dangers. Furthermore, in the city Judy could identify the bulbs (the ones that her own boss called “moldy onions”) as a controlled substance.
    . . . . . . . . And you seriously expect me to believe that after all that, Judy doesn’t know WHY those bulbs are a controlled substance (ie they make animals go crazy) or that they’re sometimes called night howlers? (A street name if ever I heard one.) No, Zootopia. That disbelief is just too heavy for me to suspend.

  30. Finally got around to seeing this. I’ve always felt Ginnifer Goodwin is very underrated as an actress, and she kills it in Season 1 of Once Upon A Time. But this is easily her best work yet.

  31. Can we just take a moment to acknowledge Emmett Otterton, secret badass of the film and The Most Interesting Mammal In The World? Seriously, the stuff that guy gets up to:

    -He’s apparently such an amazing florist and all-around botanical genius that he correctly identifies the plant responsible for the predator freak-outs where no one else could, despite being under the influence of said plant.

    -Partakes in yoga with elephants at a nudist resort.

    -Is good friends with the most powerful, feared mob boss in all of Zootopia.

    -Manages to beat up a jaguar fifteen times his own size.

    -Despite all this has a stable home life with a loving wife and two kids,

    And he does all this while wearing a knit cardigan and without saying a single word.

  32. Can we just take a moment to acknowledge Emmett Otterton, secret badass of the film and The Most Interesting Mammal In The World? Seriously, the stuff that guy gets up to:

    -He’s apparently such an amazing florist and all-around botanical genius that he correctly identifies the plant responsible for the predator freak-outs where no one else could, despite being under the influence of said plant.

    -Partakes in yoga with elephants at a nudist resort.

    -Is good friends with the most powerful, feared mob boss in all of Zootopia.

    -Manages to beat up a jaguar fifteen times his own size.

    -Despite all this has a stable home life with a loving wife and two kids,

    And he does all this while wearing a knit cardigan and without saying a single word.

    1. I would argue he identified the plant before being hit by it. That is why he was on the way to see the mob boss.

      He was able to get the clue out while under the influence though.

  33. On your comment “I haven’t seen a good cop go bad so quick since Training Day.”

    I don’t think Judy was every really Lawful. Look at all the twists of the law she engages in before that point.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s