Zootopia (and other "kid" movies)

Zootopia. The movie was already out for over a week by the time my girlfriend and I went to go see it. I'm usually pretty pumped months in advance to go see (some) kid movies (Pixar usually), but this one didn't quite grab me with its trailers and sneak peeks and such (the sloths didn't do it for me, I'm sorry).

So right off the bat I can tell you the movie is indeed good. It's smart. It looks great. But couldn't help but feel that something was missing.

I feel this movie is easy to talk about without spoiling it (but slight spoilers ahead so don't get mad, you've been warned!). It's a simple one. The story is about a cute little bunny (Judy Hopps) who won't let anyone tell her that she can't follow her dreams; in this case becoming the first ever bunny-cop. She then finds herself in a buddy cop type story line with a sly fox (Nick Wilde). Anyway, that stuff isn't important. 

What's important is what makes this movie really cool; the world it has built. Animals now human-fied, and the environment they inhabit, which creates a really cool dynamic and simplifies a lot of heavy issues for kids that may shift how they view the world they live in. More on that later. 

My real favorite part of watching this movie has to do with all the little "Easter Eggs" there are to find! They come in the form of tiny cosmetic details or in lines of dialogue throughout. Like when Judy uses her phone, it has a cool carrot logo on it instead of an apple. Or when you see her phone screen and at the top left instead of it reading "AT&T" it reads "PB&J." Or when they have the guy with the bootlegged DVDs they show all the recent Disney Animated Studios movies as if they were filmed in that animal world, with animal pun names and animal actors with really cool covers that are only shown for maybe 2 seconds (wanted so badly to just sort through them and see what kind of animals were used for each movie!). There's a Frozen reference involving a weasel with the last name "Weaselton" (I'll leave it at that, thought it was neat) and a reference (that was told to me afterward and sad I didn't catch it) where 2 characters were named Jessie and Walter; a.k.a. a Breaking Bad reference! So cool!

Back to the world. Loved the different environments, separated into districts within the city, that were created to sustain all the different animals (rain-forest, desert, tundra, New York City?). The one that I liked the most, however, was the tiny rodent town we get a little exposure to midway through; we spend most of the time seeing how tiny Judy is so getting to see her look giant was a nice change of pace. 

Let's get into what I didn't like. There wasn't much. Like I said, it's a smooth straight-forward movie. May have been my expectations, but I'm not sure. Anyway, I did say I liked all the different districts in the film, but I didn't like how little we got to see of each one. Felt like we had an awesome set up in Judy's train ride then only had (what felt like) 5 minutes screen time per non-city location. Was sad because each location had so much personality and all I got was one shot each spot with animals going about their lives there. The rest of it takes place in buildings or cars in those areas; bummer.

The story was simple, and yet not, at the same time. It did its best to layer multiple themes, but nothing smacked me along the way as surprise. I found myself yawning multiple times (not a good sign) and losing interest. Lots of the jokes were too easy, but crowd-pleasers so hard to fault them for it. 

But come on:

Sloths working the DMV? -- Uh duh. Not a surprise. Too easy. The funniest thing about that to me is that the kids watching will crack up a the obvious humor and then later realize the real joke in there when they're older and experience it for themselves.

The big scary bad guy turns out to be a tiny little guy? -- Would have been happier with an actual big intimidating creature (maybe... he was kinda cute in the tiny chair, but just saying the joke didn't land for me).

The cute baby kid working with Mr. Wilde was not a baby? -- No kidding. Once the scene started I knew how it was all going to play out. For a second at the end there I thought maybe I was overthinking it, but nope. It all happened.

Some random good stuff I liked:

Judy was not given a serious case her first day on the job and instead of moping she decided to exceed the expectations they set for her. Great message!

The bully scene in the beginning tugged my heart strings. Her standing up for her friends and actually taking a real hit for them was powerful.

Her parents saying the things that no parent ever says was funny. Their advice is the exact opposite of what we all hear growing up. Was so far opposite I couldn't help but chuckle when their advice kept pouring out.

And of course the moral of the story; that you should be yourself and not assume that because someone is born a certain way, it doesn't mean that's who they are; a.k.a. don't stereotype, anyone can be anything.


Okay. That's plenty I think. All in all I liked it. Liked the Shakira song, too. Pretty catching. Probably even more catchy than The Lego Movie's "Everything is Awesome" and yet quite reminiscent of it at the same time. 

I love kid movies. Love being surprised by how deep they can be. The one that comes to mind is Inside Out. It really grabbed me and gave me lots of feels throughout. There was a lot of hype around Zootopia after it opened here and that lead me to expect a little bit more emotionally. It tried, but I didn't feel it nearly as much. 

Thanks for reading to the end! (: Check back for more sometime.