Movie 55: Zootopia

zootopia posterIt’s kind of crazy I haven’t done a Disney Canon review since November 7, 2014!  Of course last year there was no Disney Canon film so that caused the delay.  In return for the delay, we get 2 Canon films this year with Zootopia and Moana.  And my friends, I will start the hyperbole early because if Moana is half as good as Zootopia, than I propose 2016 is the greatest year ever for Walt Disney Animated Studios. Yep, I really believe that is true.

Zootopia is a real gem, a special film that lives up to the all the hype.

Now I was not initially sold on Zootopia. I didn’t love the first 2 trailers and then the 3rd trailer I worried showed too much.  I was also nervous because the previous anthropomorphic film, Chicken Little, is one of my least favorites- relying too much on puns and a strange combination of 3 stories in 1 with a mean-spirited tone.

Fortunately, I can happily inform all of you my fears were unfounded.  I know all film is subjective, but I would be surprised if every last moviegoer doesn’t find something to love about this movie.  It just seemed to have it all.

I will only tell you a brief summary so no worry about spoilers

zootopia1Zootopia exists in an anthropomorphic world where animals have evolved past their original predator and prey natures and live in harmony- particularly in the more evolved big city.  Little Judy Hopps grows up in the country and hears the stories of Zootopia a city where ‘anyone can do anything’.

She decides as  young bunny to become a police officer and to her parents chagrin get a job on the force under Chief Bogo.  Judy is part of an affirmative action type program promoting minorities within the force.  You see, all of the other officers are predators (lions, bears, elephants etc).  Chief Bogo has no time for this bunny and assigns her to parking duty.

zootopia100As a meter maid she meets a fox Nick Wilde who is a sly con artist.  Through various turn of events her and Nick get involved in a case involving missing mammals.  Chief Bogo gives Judy 48 hours to solve the case or it is back to parking duty.

zootopia15That’s all I will say about the story because I want it to be a surprise.   (I will do a full spoiler review later on like I did with Inside Out).

Going into Zootopia, I thought it was going to be a straight on comedy but like The Lego Movie it manages to weave together emotion, humor and beautiful visuals all together in a very entertaining film.  But perhaps even more effectively than Lego, is the message at the heart of the film.  Zootopia has the potential to change perspectives of children and families.

zootopia trailer2-2I certainly can’t think of any other Disney Canon film that tackles such topics as diversity, tolerance, hatred, racism, bullying, fear, and more with so much skill and power.  I can imagine families all over the world talking about the way Judy is treated and marginalized and the way people use fear to control and justify hate.  It’s really quite remarkable.

Yet the film never becomes preachy.  This is not a Fern Gully or even a Fox and the Hound.  This is because all of the characters have these fears and prejudices and are also victims of them at different points in the story.  This makes great characters without a bad corporate greedy guy villain like in The Lorax (boy what a contrast that movie is with this!).

zootopia trailer2-3It also weaves the message within the case and Judy’s journey to never give up on her dreams. It never felt heavy handed or like a message movie to me, which was refreshing.

It’s remarkable how likable and endearing the characters are.  I loved Judy Hopps and her underdog spirit so much (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin).  Nick Wilde, voiced by Jason Bateman, is slick, sarcastic but sweet in his own way.  They are such a great combo. You can tell that they did voice work together (not common in animation) because the chemistry is there!

The other characters are great.  Idris Elba, JK Simmons, Tommy Chong, Octavia Spencer, Jenny Slate and more are used effectively and unlike most say Dreamworks cast do not feel there for only celebrity-sake.   Perhaps the only unnecessary star is Shakira as a pop singer Gazelle but she is in the movie very briefly.

zootopia1000While Zootopia wasn’t the uproarious comedy I was expecting, there are some good jokes. I definitely laughed a fair amount.  Disney is even willing to poke fun at itself.  For example, there are 2 Frozen jokes that made me chuckle.

I was worried the movie might feel too generic with its buddy cop elements but it really doesn’t.  The setting is so different with unique worlds like Tundratown, Rain Forrest District and Bunnyburrow that it helps keep it fresh.  And to be honest, I don’t really mind a familiar plot if everything else is engaging and working and this was.

It’s hard to compare Zootopia to Frozen and Tangled.  I will leave those comparisons for Moana, but I do think it is better than Big Hero 6 and Wreck-it Ralph, despite those being strong films in their own way.

zootopia sloth2And I don’t want to undersell Zootopia’s stunning visuals.  The world building is remarkable and full of surprises.  I loved all the character designs and how they kept everything to scale like real animals.  Judy is a bunny so of course she is way smaller than the bears and lions.  That was brilliant.

It’s funny, sweet, with 2 wonderful lead characters kids and adults will be able to relate with.  There are jokes for adults like Godfather references and things like that but nothing too tawdry.

And then it adds to all of those strengths with an amazing message about fear and discrimination that was perfectly executed.

zootopia trailer2-8Aside from Shakira not needing to be there, the only ‘negative’ is for kids under 4 there are some scary scenes and moments of peril. But if they can handle scary moments in other Disney titles like Big Hero 6 or even Aladdin they will be fine.  Some may find the way the case plays out a little predictable but I enjoyed it.  zootopia trailer2-4Congrats to Byron Howard, Rich Moore and Jared Bush for a fantastic job. Oh and tremendous score from Michael Giacchino as well.  What a great movie.  I can’t wait to see it again this weekend!

Overall Grade- Definitely gets an A+

Have you seen Zootopia?  What did you think?  Put in the comments section below.  Thanks!

Here’s my youtube review:

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The Worst of Disney

disney

So people love a worst of list including myself.  There’s something fun about dogging on the hard work of hundreds of people and a giant studio like Disney.  Every year I love watching all the worst films lists on my favorite youtubers (and loved it back in the Siskel and Ebert days).  In Disney’s defense they have very few true stinkers.  There are only 3 that I would really call stinkers and even them I would rather watch than stinkers from other studios like this years Legend’s of Oz, The Lorax or The Smurf movies.  So this is all relative.

But you guys asked for it so here goes…

 

Worst Movies (you know this from my rankings).

Gold- Dinosaur

Silver- Chicken Little

Bronze- Brother Bear

 

Worst Villain-

Gold- Radcliffe- Pocahontas

Silver-Sykes- Oliver and Company

Bronze- Kron- Dinosaur

 

Character I Personally Dislike the Most-

Gold- Medusa, Rescuers

Silver- Buck Cluck, Chicken Little

Bronze- Kenai, Brother Bear

 

Worst Songs-

Gold- Say it with a Slap, Bongo from Fun and Fancy Free

Silver- Mine, Mine, Mine, Pochahontas

Bronze- A Guy Like You, Hunchback of Notre Dame

 

Worst Protagonist-

Gold- Kenai, Brother Bear

Silver- Taran, Black Cauldron

Bronze- Pocahontas, Pocahontas

 

Worst Sidekick-

Gold- Gargoyles, Hunchback of Notre Dame

Silver- Koda, Brother Bear

Bronze- All the Cows, Home on the Range

 

Most Offensive Disney Moment-

Gold- Redman, Peter Pan

Silver- Judge Frollo burning family alive, Hunchback

Bronze-  Ending, Jungle Book

 

Most Boring Disney Movies-

Gold- Dinosaur

Silver- Three Caballeros

Bronze- Brother Bear

 

Worst Script-

Gold- Home on the Range

Silver- Chicken Little

Bronze- Oliver and Company and Brother Bear tied

 

Movies that Others Like that I Don’t (don’t hate them but not crazy about them either)-

Gold- Sword in the Stone

Silver- Hunchback of Notre Dame

Bronze- Wreck it Ralph

Aristocats a lot of people give a pass too.

 

Corniest Movie-

Gold- Fox and the Hound

Silver- Home on the Range

Bronze- Brother Bear

 

There you go!  Remember just an opinion.  Everyone has different tastes and these are just mine.

Movie 46: Chicken Little

chicken little

I couldn’t sleep last night and so I put on Chicken Little. I’d love to say that it gave me less nightmares but holy freaking “are you kidding me Disney?”

There is literally one thing I liked in this movie- Chicken Little is kind of a cute design.

ChickenLittle

I hate doing negative reviews.  I’m not trying to dog on films.  I have done my best to be positive but I didn’t like this movie at all.  It makes me want to go back and be nicer to The Aristocats…

Chicken Little is Disney’s first 3D completely computer animated film.  They were trying to compete with Pixar and Dreamworks (especially Dreamworks with this one).

And boy did it fail.  It is the lowest rated movie on rotten tomatoes in the entire Disney Canon.

The Story-

I don’t want this review to be super mean spirited but that would be appropriate given the tone of this movie.

Basically the story is Chicken Little see’s the sky is falling and he warns the town.  They panic (why would a town panic if a little kid said something like that. Is he like the Dali Lama of the town?  Why not just ignore the brat?).

Everyone hates him for getting them worked up including his father.  And this father is an awful character.  He hates his son.  That’s his complete purpose in the story- to be embarrassed and ashamed of his son and to communicate the shame quite clearly repeatedly.

dadHe is the villain of the movie but it doesn’t seem to get that.  I guess it thinks the aliens are the villain or maybe the town? I have no idea.  But the father is so terrible to his son.  He literally hangs his head in shame and tries to deny knowledge of said son in front of the the whole town!  Why doesn’t he ask one question of his son?  Maybe try to see why he persists with stories that are causing him such harm?  Surely there is a reason.

So Chicken (I guess that’s his first name) goes to school and hopes to please his father.  There we get introduced to his troop of loser friends.

Disney-Chicken-Little-FriendsThey all have names that are supposed to be funny if you are 5 like the fish out of water is named Fish Out of Water, or the duckling is named Ugly Duckling.  Or this is really funny the giant pig is named Runt of the Litter…  Ha, ha, ha, ha…

There’s also scenes where we see supposed ‘sight gags’.  This is a joke in the background which is meant to be subtly funny and they can be. The Simpsons uses them all the time (a theater sign or name of a store could be funny in the background) . In chicken Little they have a guy using a goat to clip his lawn.  Ha, ha, ha, ha.  That’s not funny.

Or we get a fish driving around in a fish car.

fish carWhat will he do to get out of the fish car?  Roger Ebert once said  ‘a car has never made a movie funny’ and that is so true.  Props of any kind are not inherently funny.  It’s what the comic or movie does with said prop that makes (or doesn’t make) the joke.  When it doesn’t work it is just confusing.  Why are they doing that?

So we get a long painful dodge ball scene and then Chicken decides to join the baseball team (and we haven’t had any reference to the sky falling for some time) because his father was the big hero.  He trains and the big game comes with every tired big game cliche ever included in a baseball movie.  It makes Casey at Bat from Make Mine Music look subtle… And yet everything had been so awful for the poor cluck I wanted him to have his moment.  But even that is ruined and made more an achievement of luck than any kind of real accomplishment from Chicken Little.

ChickenLittle baseball

The other thing I wonder about is why aren’t there any other chickens?  I mean I assume they are all vegetarians in this movie so why aren’t there lots of chickens and they are roughly around the same size.  Surely there would be other chicken close to CL’s size but wouldn’t that be a problem given his name is Chicken?

But I’m way overthinking this movie, way overthinking…

So CL is the hero after the game, even to his dear old Dad.  But then he see’s the sky falling again.  Turns out they are aliens who can replicate the earth with the tiles of their spaceship.  Should CL risk telling the town again after his new found fame?  Again, why does anyone care about this one little kid in their town?  I mean for a character who is repeatedly ignored at school, the adults sure care what he thinks and says.

But the people panic and come but the aliens are invisible again with the tiles so Dad is shamed again and everyone hates CL but his 3 friends. I mean the people in this town are really mean.   But the aliens have left a stowaway baby alien.  The alien design is pretty unique.. I will give it that.

alienSo then we get our 3rd part of the movie where everyone realizes CL was telling the truth but the aliens are attacking to get their baby back.  People get zapped, Dad and CL reconcile way too easily and it turns out the aliens aren’t really bad guys but just misunderstood cool dudes (groan…).  Plus, the music during this scene is REM’s ‘It’s the End of the World as We Know It’.  Is that supposed to be funny? Don’t get me wrong.  I love the song but I HATE IT when movies tell you how to feel and nothing does that more than that kind of music cue.

So now CL is the hero and the story is over.

Movie Review/Conclusion-

Want a point by point 17 minute rehashing of why this movie is an ‘animated atrocity’ check out this video from Animation Atrocities youtube series. 

.   Major language warning but he is right!

I might be willing to give this movie a pass as junk but it is so mean-spirited.   It will do nothing for your kids imagination or creativity.  The story is awful and it will make them fear being alone not standing up for yourself.  Basically CL only gets love once he is proven right.  That’s a great lesson for kids.  The Dad says he loves him regardless- hogwash.  Say that when you were hiding your face in shame as your son tried to defend himself.  It teaches the opposite of acceptance.  That people will be judgmental unless you are 100% perfect.

But all of that wouldn’t matter much if it was clever.  Instead it is so lazy and didn’t even make me laugh.  Not one time and believe me it tries A LOT!

Roger Ebert once said about a film  “this movie was not preferable to 1 hour and 45 minutes of looking at a blank wall” 

There you go.  That’s Chicken Little.  I would rather stare at a blank wall for 81 minutes.  In fact, I may go and do that for a bit.

Overall Grade- F  I’m calling it.  Worse than Dinosaur.  I agree with Rotten Tomatoes.  Worst movie in Canon. 

Oh and I almost forgot- there is an entire verse of a Spice Girls song sung by a character which I guess is supposed to be funny?  Just cringe inducing to me.

Oh and a strange reference to Indiana Jones at the beginning.  Why have one image of a human in the movie?  And Indiana Jones?  It doesn’t make sense.

 

indiana jones

Disney 2000-2009

2000sSo now we are starting the part of this project I am probably looking forward to the least- the Disney 2000s.  To be honest, if I could just watch 12 Pixar movies instead I would be a lot more pumped but I promised to go into the project open minded and I will do so with each of these films.

In fact, most of them aside from Emperor’s New Groove, I either haven’t seen or haven’t seen in a long time.  So I am hoping to be pleasantly surprised kind of like I was with Rescuers Down Under.  Hopefully I will find a hidden gem.

So, I am curious, my wonderful readers, which one (or more) out of these 12 do you like and why?  Get me pumped!  Which is your least favorite?  I promise I will not let your likes or dislikes affect my view of the films so don’t worry about that.  Just share in the comments or message me on facebook or twitter at @smilingldsgirl.

Thanks for reading!

Rachel