Jun 8, 2016

[Movies] Zootopia (2016)

The modern Disney movie is hard to distinguish from a Pixar movie at times given the general shift to CGI animation versus traditional cell animation. Thus we get animated after animated feature that continue to blur the lines between the sort of stories Disney used to tell versus the stories that Pixar crafts. But I that isn't necessarily a bad thing of course for as long as it results  in more good stories.

Zootopia is a quirky animated piece that is in itself a celebration of the love for anthropomorphic animals. and the buddy cop movie genre as well, in a manner speaking. The movie has also triggered an interesting wave of  cosplay efforts at various geeky conventions that probably has the furry community quite happy.

The movie has weird implications when you look at things somewhat more seriously, but of course this is meant for children and we probably shouldn't go there. But the same time the movie just wasn't quite as engaging as I had hoped despite the fun in the trailer. I'm glad that we only watched it on home video.

Synopsis: Zootopia is a 2016 animated comedy movie directed by Byron Howard and Rich Moore. The screenplay was written by Jared Bush and Phil Johnston.

The movie is set in this fictional mega city known as Zootopia that incorporates various ecosystems into one large community that has everyone living in harmony with one another. As the movie also sets up in its school play explanation of how predators and prey now live together and have every opportunity available to them. In this case we focus on Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin), a young bunny with ambitions of becoming a police officer despite the ideas we typically associate with small furry creatures like herself. And even when she does become a police bunny, they don''t exactly get excited to put her on serious duty and thus she ends up as a meter maid. But with no one else managing to find a lead in the case of the missing citizens, Hopps decides to take it upon herself to figure out what's going on.

A large part of Officer Hopps' investigation of the missing people brings her into contact with the con-artist (con-fox?) Nick Wide (Jason Bateman), who somehow ends up helping her find clues that eventually help with finding the missing animals. It's not all that intimate a relationship (and I don't mean that in a romantic sense of course) but more that their relationship never really grows into the full buddy-buddy dynamic nor does it feel like that sort of Odd Couple style pairing where we expect opposites to jive together.

The sloth scene is probably the funniest scene in the movie, but beyond that the comedy just isn't quite there. With all the animals and the diverse ecosystems, there were a lot of opportunities for various sight gags and quick one-off jokes, but I don't think we got that. There was more focus on dressing the animals up and given them occupations that would fit our perceptions of animal stereotypes married with human stereotypes. The results are a little quirky but still entertaining.

The movie has its own brand of humor but at the same time it doesn't quite get to the point where the humor is universal in nature. There were stuff for younger audiences and stuff for older ones but not often for both.

Zootopia is fun enough on its own but it isn't quite a homerun. It has a few great moments but not the most cohesive whole and some really lazy animal puns. Thus the movie gets 3 strange animal occupations out of a possible 5.


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