Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Small Rabbit Cop In a Big Ferocious City

I only intended to spend Friday hanging out with Alex, and wound up not getting back home until Sunday afternoon. It did give me the chance to see some movies, although the majority of them weren't very good. The high point was probably Zootopia, which I'd been meaning to watch on Netflix.

I really noticed the structure of the plot really clearly. Plucky young character has dream, pursues dream, meets setbacks. Then the young character begins to pull things together and seems to have everything she wanted, including a friend, but then screws things up with the friend and retreats, depressed, to her previous life. And then she gets a spark of inspiration, goes back and fixes her mistakes and saves the day.

I don't mean it as a criticism, since a lot of movies have the same basic plot structure, and it's the details, the characterization, the jokes (if there are any) that distinguish a lot of films. For whatever reason, it stood out particularly here, but whatever. The story is fine, the whole message about recognizing prejudices and confronting them is nice. Although we only see one weasel, and he's a thief and bootleg DVD retailer, so the film doesn't exactly paint a positive portrayal of them.

I was pleasantly surprised at how often I laughed. The ideas behind all the accommodations for the different species, the opportunities that offered for sequences set in different locations. Like, I really enjoyed Officer Hopps chasing the weasel thief into the shrews section of town. Trying to keep buildings from toppling, using a train like a skateboard. The water buffalo police chief's delivery of lines, especially when he talks about how he doesn't care about whatever it is he doesn't care about. It's such a deadpan delivery, I can't tell if it amuses him, or he really doesn't care. And I just got around to looking up the cast, that was Idris Elba, OK, makes sense, he's a good actor. A decent ratio of the jokes playing off what we perceive as the personality traits of the different animals landed.

The antagonism between Judy and Nick early in the film was good for a lot of laughs. Each character trying to get one over on the other constantly. Judy's able to get Nick in a bind where he has to help her, so Nick then does whatever he can to waste her time and make her suffer (which is where the scene with the sloths that run the DMV comes in. That ran too long for my tastes.) So then Judy uses Nick's need to get that recording of him admitting to crimes to give her a pretext to enter a locked facility.

The way the carrot pen recorder keeps coming back into play over the course of the film was a nice touch. It's the Chekov's Gun of the movie, but it keeps getting used throughout, rather than getting shown once, then vanishing until the climax. I don't know if that was done with a younger audience in mind, where they wanted the kids to remember it, or if they were thinking that by showing it repeatedly, it would lose significance in the audience's mind. It can almost drift into the background, while we focus on the can of fox repellent spray Judy's mom gave, and which Judy had been carrying throughout. The film has hinted towards it a couple of times, even gave Judy a bad run-in with a bully where she could have used it as a kid in her backstory, and it doesn't wind up being used. Instead it's the more nondescript tool that turns the tide.

So, yes, Zootopia was more entertaining than I expected. Hooray!

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