Epic Movie (Re)Watch #124 - Zootopia
Have I seen it before: Yes
Did I like it then: Yes!
Do I remember it: Yes.
Did I see it in theaters: Yes.
Was it a movie I saw since August 22nd, 2009: Yes. #412.
1) From the very start this film is excellent storytelling. The opening scene where young Judy and her classmates clearly establishes the conflict of predator vs. prey and the biases that come from that, the film’s humor and heart, and Judy as a character.
2) My mother is an actuary. My brother is studying to be an actuary. Actuaries don’t do this.
Little Jaguar: “Today I can hunt for tax exemptions. I’m going to be an actuary!”
3) Judy’s parents (Don Lake & Bonnie Hunt) are so funny in such a sad way.
Stu: “Judy, you ever wonder how your mom and me got to be so darn happy?”
Stu: “Well, we gave up on our dreams and we settled. Right, Bon?”
Bonnie: “Oh yes, that’s right Stu. We settled hard.”
4) Gideon Grey.
Gideon is a perfect example of how nothing - NOTHING - in this film is superfluous, but I’m actually going to speak on that further into the film.
5) The police academy scene gives wonderful exposition. It sets up the environment and rules of Zootopia’s various ecosystems in a way that feeds into Judy’s conflict and character.
6) Ginnifer Goodwin as Judy Hopps.
Goodwin (a massive Disney fan herself) breathes perfect life into Hopps. The best voice over work is when you’re not distracted by the voice actor. When their voice and their heart match with the character so perfectly that you don’t hear - say - Kristen Bell as Anna or Mike Myers as Shrek, you only hear the character’s. Goodwin is able to balance Judy’s massive optimism and heart along with the scenes where Judy has lost those things perfectly. I don’t think anyone else could have voiced Hopps as well as Goodwin.
7) If you want to avoid a slew of bad animal puns, don’t look too hard at Judy’s iPod.
8) “Try Everything” by Shakira.
Written by Sia, Tor Erik Hermansen, and Mikkel Storleer Eriksen, the theme song which deserved an Oscar nomination captures Judy’s optimism and struggles perfectly. The song’s lyrics speak of optimism in the face of constant failure, a theme which is very relevant to Judy in the first half of the film. It also provides the perfect backdrop to the visual introduction of Zootopia as Judy enters the city on train.
Judy [after Clawhauser calls her “cute”]: “Ooh, ah, you probably didn’t know, but a bunny can call another bunny ‘cute’, but when other animals do it, that’s a little…”
10) This film really runs with the animal puns.
(GIF originally posted by @baawri)
Bogo [turning to an Elephant officer]: “Francine. Happy birthday!”
11) I love the way the filmmakers handled Judy’s office discrimination. She is treated just as a token bunny, someone who’s only there for PR. Except she was top of her class at Zootopia police academy: a difficult feat for anybody, let alone a bunny. But this just feeds into the biases Bogo already has about Judy: she’s not really that good, they just said she was because she’s a bunny. That plays into real life way more than it probably should.
12) Wow, I did not catch how entirely speciesist this line was until now:
Ice Cream Parlor Owner [to Nick]: “Look, you probably can’t read…”
Damn that’s speciesist.
13) Jason Bateman as Nick Wilde.
Remember how I said great voice over work is noted by not realizing you’re listening to a voice over artist? The same can be said of Bateman’s performance of Wilde, 100%. To start, Bateman captures Wilde’s surface level of sly con artists WONDERFULLY well. He’s devilish and charming in the same vein as Danny Ocean or Han Solo, and Bateman expresses this perfectly. But as the film progresses Bateman is also able to show off Nick’s layers. His troubled past, his occasional lack of self-worth and anger at the world. And the honest level never changes. It’s not like Bateman was hired ONLY for the slyness of Nick’s role and had to power through the rest, he’s able to do it all. It’s a great voice over for a great character.
14) The relationship between Nick & Judy is the cornerstone of this film. What I personally like about it is its honesty. There’s no BIG moment when these two meet, it’s a chance encounter which grows to conflict and then budding friendship so organically you don’t even know it’s happening.
15) There is nothing even remotely superfluous in this film. Nick makes a comment about how he’s been running his popsicle con his whole life and that will come back to bite him in the butt later.
16) This pig is played by Josh Dallas, Ginnifer Goodwin’s onscreen partner in “Once Upon a Time” and real life husband.
17) The chase through Zootopia is an incredible amount of fun, especially when Judy and Duke get to Little Rodentia. The filmmakers are able to play with their concept in a visual entertaining and imaginative way, which in turn keeps us as the audience wrapped up in the world they’ve established.
Note: I’m going to take about Alan Tudyk as Duke later in the film, at a very specific moment.
18) Again, there is nothing superfluous in this film (a note I’m going to be making a lot):
Judy [after saving Mr. Big’s daughter]: “Love your hair.”
Mr. Big’s Daughter: “Aww, thank you!”
It is this little encounter (and, you know, the fact that Judy saved her life) that saves Judy & Nick from getting “iced” by Mr. Big later in the film.
19) Again, nothing superfluous in the film. As the “non-onions” that Duke stole end up being very important later on.
20) Disney is at its bets when it pokes fun at itself.
Bogo: “Life isn’t some cartoon musical where you sing a little musical and your insipid dreams MAGICALLY COME TRUE! So let it go.”
21) Can we all just take a moment to appreciate Nick’s face after Judy says she’ll arrest him for, “felony tax evasion,” after he brags to her about how he’s been running this con since he was a kid and how much money he makes?
(GIF originally posted by @animations-daily)
22) Again, with the idea that nothing in this film is superfluous: Judy’s recording pen becomes very important as the movie goes on.
23) Only Tommy Chong could play this character.
(GIF source unknown [if this is your GIF please let me know].)
Like there’s a chance he’s not even reading from a script, they just had Tommy Chong come in and told him what the movie was about and he just started talking.
24) This is the funniest part of the whole film, in my opinion.
The entire DMV scene plays well not only with the concept established by the film of an animal society in a way which is funny on its own, but the continuing conflict of Judy’s eagerness, Flash’s slowness, and Nick’s desire to throw a monkey wrench into the whole thing leads to amazing comedy.
25) Did you know Kristen Bell is in this film?
Bell landed the role not only because of her working with Disney on Frozen, but also because she is a noteworthy sloth enthusiast (as seen on “Ellen”).
26) It is nice to see Nick freak out when he realizes he and Judy are in Mr. Big’s limo, as it shows us a part of him we haven’t gotten to look at much in the film so far.
27) Maurice LaMarche as Mr. Big.
(GIF originally posted by @rocktheholygrail)
LaMarche is a noted voice over actor known primarily for his roles as Brain on “Pinky & The Brain”, various characters including Calculon on “Futurama”, and Mr. Freeze in the Batman Arkham series of video games. Here, we get to hear the veteran voice over artist do his best high pitched Brando impression.
28) This film has its fair share of nice surprises, details and twists which keeps you on your toes. The earliest of these is the revelation that the missing mammal Judy & Nick are looking for - Mr. Otterton - was in fact the one who attacked the limo driver (and not that he was the one attacked, as originally perceived).
29) This scene gives me life.
Bogo [after Judy’s witness disappears]: Two days to find the otter, or you quit. That was the deal. [Holding out hand] Badge.
Judy: But sir, we…
[Judy starts to turn in her badge]
Nick: Uh… no.
Chief Bogo: What did you say, fox?
Nick Wilde: Sorry, what I said was… NO! She will not be giving you that badge.[Bogo flinches] Look, you gave her a… a… a clown vest and a three wheel joke mobile and two days to solve a case you guys haven’t cracked in two weeks? Yeah, no wonder she needed to get help from a fox. None of you guys were gonna help her, were you? [Bogo starts to speak but Nick cuts him off] Here’s the thing, chief. You gave her the 48 hours, so technically we still have… 10 left, to find our Mr. Otterton. And that’s exactly what we’re gonna do. So, if you’ll excuse us, we have a very big lead to follow and a case to crack. Good day.
30) And then there’s this…
I saw this film twice in theaters and both times I was tearing up during Nick’s backstory. Anyone who has ever been bullied as a kid for being different will relate at least a little bit to what Nick went through. And it is this scene when Nick is at his most honesty with Judy, when they become pretty good friends and form a trust with each other.
31) NOTHING IN THIS FILM IS SUPERFLUOUS!!!! NOT EVEN A BLINK OR YOU’LL MISS IT STICKY NOTE ON BELLWETHER’S DESK!!!!
32) I did not think a Disney movie would make me jump like this (stop at 2:11).
33) This is incredibly rare for me, as someone who sees more than 60 films in theaters a year, but after Nick & Judy found the missing mammals and had the mayor arrested I had absolutely NO idea where the film was going after that. At all. I love it!
34) Nick’s face when Judy links the savage animals to being a predator…
(GIF source unknown [if this is your GIF please let me know].)
35) I had a film student criticize this film not based on the merits of its story or character’s or anything, but because they didn’t understand the metaphor. He noted that it’s not a clean comparison between white people and minorities and that’s exactly the point. This film is not about the people in power vs the people who aren’t, because who’s in power? The mayor may be a lion but the most biased character in the film - Chief Bogo - is prey. Bias goes all around and it can infect anybody, no matter what you think. Even Judy, for all her merits, is biased. She carries around fox repellent all the time and even has this line:
Judy: “It’s not like a bunny can go savage.”
That’s what I love about this film. It’s universal. It’s not about one real life society, it is about all societies everywhere and how bias can infect them and taint them and it’s up to us to work against that.
36) Fun fact: I had no idea otters were predators before seeing this film.
37) Gideon Grey returns.
If only all childhood bullies were like that, but again it gets to my oft-repeated point that nothing in this film is superfluous. Gideon could have easily been the one note bully from Judy’s youth who gave her the motivation to prove him wrong, but he comes back 15 years later in the most perfect way. She sees that people can change and that people who are good now are not always good (Gideon when he was younger, Judy when she was biased). It is a really important moment for her that was established all the way in the first ten minutes of this movie. I love that.
38) Judy’s apology to Nick and the way he handles it is something I truly love about this movie and their friendship as a whole.
And then I really love the little joke at the end about Judy trying to get to the pen and can’t help but wonder: was that written in the script? Was it Jason Bateman’s improv that made it into the film? It’s just so natural I must know!
39) Okay, I think this is the last time I will give this note, BUT NOTHING IN THIS MOVIE IS SUPERFLUOUS!!! This is most apparent to me when Nick does a little thing like expressing how much he likes the berries on Judy’s farm and it becomes so important to the plot latter when they switched out those berries with the Night Howlers in Bellwether’s dart gun.
40) THE BOOTLEG MOVIES!!!!
(GIFs originally posted by @bridgetjones)
41) And it’s followed up by this!
Both characters are voiced by Alan Tudyk. Because Disney just can’t let that one slide, can they? I love it.
42) Same Duke. Same.
(GIFs originally posted by @baawri)
43) The sticky note on Bellwether’s phone earlier was for Doug, the guy who mixes the night howler drug that makes animals go savage (this is the same drug who’s key ingredient was mixed from the non-onions Duke stole earlier in the film, FOR Doug).
44) At one point Doug - who is dressed in a yellow radiation suit and makes drugs for a living - lets his client know that “Woolter and Jesse” have arrived.
And yes, they did that on purpose.
45) The entire subway chase sequence is really great, because it is based heavily on the idea of action = consequence. A ram is running at the door, he gets through and hits another ram. The train goes too fast into a turn, it tips over and Judy/Nick are up a creek. It all works very nicely
46) Honestly, I didn’t figure out Bellwether was the bad guy until just before it was revealed the first time I saw this.
47) Bellwether’s line about, “Fear ALWAYS works!” to keep the people in check should not be as relevant in 2017 as it is.
48) Okay, one thing I need to know: Bellwether is in jail, Mayor Lionheart is in jail, and Chief Bogo is still the police chief…SO WHO’S MAYOR NOW!?!?!?
49) I know this film was pretty much a buddy cop movie, but I would be totally fine with a buddy cop movie where Nick is actually a cop.
Lethal Weapon where Nick is Mel Gibson and Judy is…Danny Glover? Okay, that comparison doesn’t really work, but you get me!
50) And of course…
I honestly think Zootopia may be a perfectly written film, and that is not something I say lightly. I made it clear above how I find nothing in the film superfluous, which is an incredible feat I think. And they did it in a way that was never boring, with entertaining characters, an intriguing mystery, and a fun world. Zootopia may be my favorite Disney animated feature film, and it’s definitely my favorite of the “Modern Era” we’re in now (The Princess and the Frog - Present). Just a great, great, great film which deserved its Best Animated Picture win at the Oscars. A true treat all around.