Film #185: Zootopia (2016)

zootopiaaka Zootropolis, apparently
directors: Byron Howard & Rich Moore
language: English
length: 108 minutes
watched on: 25 April 2016

This was the first movie I saw at the cinema since Star Wars last year, and there’s a pretty simple reason for that: there’s been nothing good on. As usual, Japan was behind with this movie, but only one month instead of the usual four (and for once, not the latest in the entire world). It was also behind with all the Oscar movies, which hadn’t even been released here when the awards ceremony happened, which was just stupid. I think The Revenant was out the same weekend as this, but I still haven’t seen that because I didn’t want to take a full three hours off work.

Anyway, Zootopia, uncharitably called the Furry movie on certain segments of the internet, is a story about sentient animals living in harmony in one city, which has to have different climate sections and architecture designed for all different shapes and sizes. The main character is a rabbit who comes there, wanting to become a police officer, but quickly finding out about discrimination inherent in the system, against small docile animals like herself. The other main character is the fox guy, who, true to his species’ stereotype, is a con-man. They like, fall in love or something, and he helps her with an investigation.

The film has a pretty simple message about discrimination and prejudice, and at its heart promotes diversity. The rabbit character is constantly batting off microaggressions from her massive predator colleagues, for instance. About halfway through there is an event that leads to widespread discrimination against the predators, saying that they’re likely to revert to their primitive ways.

The plot does get a little convoluted on the way, and had an unexpected twist near the end when the villain is revealed. There are more than a couple of unlikely coincidences that save the main characters’ skin, which annoyed me a little – but it’s a movie, and too much extra plot for the sake of avoiding this would have been more annoying in the end.

The main attraction to the film is the attention to detail – especially just seeing how a world with such a diverse array of residents would work and what would be different. A simple example would be the train doors (small ones for the mice and big ones for the elephants) or the different sizes of everyone’s smartphones. Or the tiny town for mice, where the rabbit is huge.

Similarly, it’s visually lush and grand. I really enjoyed watching it for these reasons alone – and if that’s not enough, there’s some light comedy too, like the scenes where they go to the nudist colony (naked animals?? oh no!!), and to the DMV office staffed with sloths, which was pretty relatable for any adults in the audience. So while I’d add the caveat that I don’t think it’s an instant classic of Disney, especially as the plot was pretty forgettable, I do highly recommend it for the reasons listed above. I think it will be remembered for the aesthetic instead of the plot or characters, ultimately.

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