Prime Reactions Review – Zootopia

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This movie’s still relevant right?

I’m pretty sure this one’s theatrical run is almost at an end so I decided to see it on a whim. The overwhelmingly positive reviews may have helped. Surprisingly, I wasn’t the only one in the theater.

This was a very good movie. It’s smart, clever, funny, for adults and kids, has something to say, says it without talking down to kids, and is very relevant to today and really all of history. It’s a little sad that the messages in this movie still need to be said, but if you’re going to do it, do it well. I think they did.

I like how “real” this movie is. Judy’s got big dreams of becoming a cop, something rabbits don’t do in that world. Her parents try to talk her out of it and tell her to be a farmer like other rabbits. Everyone else sneers at the idea of a tiny rabbit being a cop. After Judy moves to Zootopia, she lives in a small unappealing room with bad neighbors, eats processed food, and her dream job was a mere title, not what she worked hard for. It’s a sad reality, but she still tries her best. With Nick, he realized from a young age that society simply has a different plan for you regardless of your dreams. And in a way, he makes the best of it. If people are going to judge him as a sly fox, then he’ll go around conning people. Even though the film ends on a happy note, life can be very depressing and this film demonstrates it very well. These experiences could easily happen to a great many people. I wasn’t expecting social commentary going in. While it’s all over this movie, I don’t think they were too heavy-handed with it. At least I was okay with how often it was brought up.

The humor was very clever and on point. The visual and animal stereotype-based humor was pretty funny and I acknowledge the effort that went into it.

I think this was the most solid Disney movie I’ve seen in recent years even counting Pixar’s. I have very few problems with it and those problems are the nittiest of picks. Allow me to contrast this with Inside Out which was… a less than stellar movie for me to sit through. First, let me say I haven’t seen Inside Out since opening day. Second, the line to “internet smack me” is on your left.

While both movies focus on a pair of opposites, I found Judy and Nick more interesting. Their dynamic and interactions allow for some good humor and as the “buddy cop” element progresses, I genuinely cared about them more. Their different backgrounds, attitudes, and seeing them question everything they know made them compelling characters that I’d like to see more of. Joy and Sadness… Well, that’s how I’d describe them. They don’t work off of each other all that well and for most of the “journey” element, I remember Sadness being dead weight for a lot of it even if she contributed later. I don’t recall Sadness learning anything because Joy was technically the main character. Do I want to see more of them? Not really. I’d watch an Inside Out 2, but not because of the characters.

Zootopia’s world was creative. Granted, the different areas aren’t anything particularly special, but we actually go to them even if time was spent more in one area over others. If I said “tundra”, would you know what to expect? The “sahara”? Yeah, probably. It’s still interesting to see how the animals interact with these environments. I love world-building as long as they don’t sacrifice story/plot. Inside Out on the other hand… They talk about the islands but we don’t get to see them. If I remember correctly, we see the control room, memory storage, imagination land, the dream studio, and the jail. That’s generally enough, but to establish several islands and not show them makes me wonder why they bothered. Memory storage was nothing and we spent a while there. Lots of time “oohing” and “ahhing” in imagination land, but that’s only one island. Feels like wasted potential.

Next we get into the story. I’ll take police mystery over mostly generic journey we’ve seen in so many Pixar movies. While I’m betting that adults can see the twists coming in Zootopia, I don’t think that takes anything away from how good the movie is. Unlike Inside Out where the journey takes up most of the movie and couldn’t keep my attention, Zootopia’s story and characters kept me interested. It helped that there was a mystery unfolding. In Inside Out, you know they’ll get back and everything’ll be good. Even all the islands that fall into oblivion get rebuilt in no time. Though to be fair, there was one consequence which I really appreciated.

I won’t really compare the quality of the lessons/messages they wanted to convey. Zootopia was talking about racial biases and prejudice which falls into social commentary, something Inside Out’s message, unique as it was, doesn’t fall into. Both have some good themes and things for kids to learn and both do them well.

Ultimate Reflections:
I easily recommend Zootopia. At worst, you might think it’s okay. I don’t know anyone who downright hated it. The main characters are likable and written very well. The story and mystery are worth sitting through. The humor, themes, and lesson are all on point and incorporated well. This is easily one of 2016’s best films. I hear people saying wait for Finding Dory, but there is nothing I’ve seen from that so far that seems good. I’ll forever question its necessity. While we still get a bunch of duds in the kid’s movie category every year, you’ll generally find something good like this. It’s clear the people working on this movie cared and had something they wanted to say. Looking forward to their next one.

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