Disney Marathon: ‘Zootopia’


We’re going to jump a bit closer to the present, where Zootopia is the reigning animated film in China and their Disney park is getting a unique district based on the movie. This was Amelia’s first outing to the cinema, and was a longtime household favourite.

For those just joining us, this is a movie marathon with a twist. Myself (cranky 30s blogger), my son Josh (stoic 10 year old Nintendo obsessive) and my daughter Amelia (drama llama 7 year old princess wannabe) are watching Disney movies in a random order and ranking them. We hope to see interesting differences in how we organise our lists.

Film: Zootopia

Released: 2016

Director: Byron Howard and Rich Moore

Cast: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, Jenny Slate, Nate Torrence, Tommy Chong, J.K. Simmons, Octavia Spencer, Alan Tudyk, Sharkira

Plot: In a world of anthropomorphic animals, determined rabbit Judy Hopps moves to the big city to fulfil her dream of becoming a police officer. When she starts turning up a city-wide conspiracy she teams with hustler fox Nick Wilde to find the truth.

Review: Straight up, I love this movie. I think this is the best Disney movie on a script level. There’s a complex social issue at the heart of this movie presented with plain-spoken language in a way that isn’t cloying or heavy-handed. Part of what makes it a solid piece of storytelling is the fascinating world built for the story to take place in. We have the broad strokes – the metropolis housing the majority of the population sells itself on the idea of a melting pot culture. Zoo. The smaller details show use the nuances of the script, such as the subcultures, the infrastructure and the tensions among the multicultural population.

Not that it’s a serious film. It’s bright, fun and funny regardless of the audience age. The fact that it slides the social commentary into such a film makes it all the better.

The cast bringing the characters to life are consistently perfect. The inexperienced, but far from naive, Judy Hopps and crafty, emotionally repressed Nick Wilde are voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin and Jason Bateman, and they’re now permanently associated with the roles. Regardless of how small the role is they have a solid talent behind it. The city mayor only has a few lines, as does the chief of police, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be voiced by J.K. Simmons and Idris Elba. Disney often go for one major star to hang a movie off, this is a rare example of them going all out. There’s a fantastic casting Easter Egg with Alan Tudyk playing Duke Weaselton, a riff on his Frozen character, The Duke of Weselton.

We open with Judy as a child, quickly establishing her determination towards become a cop and her firm belief in justice. As an adult she’s a stand-out at the police academy, showing her resourcefulness in working with a smaller size, and she’s on her way to Zootopia. Her landing is rough, as she’s a small fish in a big pond and she struggles to make her peers and the community take her seriously. Eventually she puts everything she has worked for on the line for a missing persons case.

Judy’s only lead in the case puts Nick Wilde in her sights, a seasoned grifter who has already embarrassed the young cop. Judy plays him at his own game and recruits him as a partner. Together they dig into the missing otter case, only to find it ties to a series of predators turning ‘savage’, going feral and attacking the ‘prey’ part of the population. In order to deliver justice they have to deal with powerful politicians, and Judy has to confront her own commonly held prejudices against predators.

Although physically more imposing, predators are very much in the minority in Zootopia. Throughout the movie we see all manner of discord and bigotry in the citizens of the city, although they all strive towards and celebrate an integrated population. You won’t find a family animated movie that strikes such a familiar tone is dealing with these topics. Zootopia has analogues for racism and sexism and deals with them in a sensible way. It draws on the role of the ruling class, the role of the media and doesn’t shy away from putting our heroes at fault.

It’s surprising that a sequel isn’t already on the way, considering there’s plenty more of the world to see. There’s still a number of city districts that we haven’t seen, and the buddy-cop dynamic of the lead characters has been well established. It’s little wonder that positive word of mouth wound up driving the films success, it’s lightning in a bottle.

Best Song: ‘Try Everything’ by Shakira because…well, it’s the only one.

Coolest Easter Egg: There are elephants dressed as Elsa and Anna…and Anna herself (Kristen Bell) cameos as a sloth…but the range of knock-off Disney movies for sale by Duke Weaselton is the funniest. Kinda awkward that Gigantic is so prominent considering that film got canned.

Almost forgot one – each major region the film was released in got a different newsreader.

The rumoured UK corgi turned out to be false.

Weirdest Trivia: A scrapped storyline that appeared up unto the storyboard stage depicted predators being fitted with behaviour restricting shock collars when they ‘come of age’.

Rating: TEN out of TEN

THE RANKING

ME

Did you get the impression that I like this movie?

Click those titles if you want to see what we said about the other movies.

  1. Zootopia
  2. Robin Hood
  3. Aladdin
  4. Wreck-It Ralph
  5. Alice in Wonderland
  6. Beauty and the Beast
  7. Moana
  8. Big Hero 6
  9. Frozen
  10. Tangled
  11. The Sword in the Stone
  12. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
  13. Mulan
  14. Emperor’s New Groove
  15. Fantasia
  16. Ralph Breaks the Internet
  17. The Three Caballeros
  18. The Princess and the Frog
  19. Oliver & Company
  20. The Aristocats
  21. The Fox and the Hound
  22. A Goofy Movie
  23. Treasure Planet
  24. Chicken Little

AMELIA

Amelia didn’t like the scene at the nudist colony. She felt that was unnecessary. She also takes issue with Judy only hopping twice in the movie and running the rest of the time. Still love it though.

  1. Frozen
  2. Emperor’s New Groove
  3. Zootopia
  4. The Three Caballeros
  5. Moana
  6. Mulan
  7. Alice in Wonderland
  8. Wreck-It Ralph
  9. Tangled
  10. The Aristocats
  11. The Princess and the Frog
  12. Robin Hood
  13. Beauty and the Beast
  14. The Fox and the Hound
  15. Oliver & Company
  16. The Sword in the Stone
  17. Aladdin
  18. Treasure Planet
  19. Big Hero 6
  20. A Goofy Movie
  21. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
  22. Chicken Little
  23. Fantasia

JOSHUA

Joshua ranked this at the top of his list before her knew I was going to do the same. Says it’s one of Disney’s best movies. I get that.

  1. Zootopia
  2. Big Hero 6
  3. Aladdin
  4. Emperor’s New Groove
  5. Treasure Planet
  6. Moana
  7. Ralph Breaks the Internet
  8. The Three Caballeros
  9. Wreck-It Ralph
  10. Frozen
  11. Mulan
  12. The Princess and the Frog
  13. Robin Hood
  14. The Sword in the Stone
  15. Beauty and the Beast
  16. Oliver & Company
  17. Tangled
  18. A Goofy Movie
  19. The Aristocats
  20. Fantasia
  21. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
  22. The Fox and the Hound
  23. Alice in Wonderland
  24. Chicken Little