Ranking the Disney Animated Canon, Part 6

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PART 2 HERE

PART 3 HERE

PART 4 HERE

Part 5 HERE

#24. Zootopia

Zootopia_Poster

The Disney Revival is still going strong. I admit, after how wonderful this period has been (especially Frozen and Big Hero 6) I was worried we might be approaching this cycle’s Pocahontas. Fortunately that is not the case. It’s dominating the box office and is killing it with the critics. It has a 99% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The only film in the canon with a higher rating is Pinocchio, with its 100% score (and for a few days Zootopia did have a 100% rating). It’s worth noting that in the lead-up to the film’s premiere Disney had a great marketing campaign, and posted parodies of artists and movies that were nominated for the Grammys and Oscars on their social media outlets. Notably, it is the fourth movie in the canon (after Robin Hood, The Lion King, and Dinosaur) where humans are neither seen nor mentioned.

The story is pretty good. It has passed Frozen for the title of second-longest film in the canon, and they did use the time for plot advancement and character development. This movie joins Meet the Robinsons, Bolt, The Princess and the Frog, Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen, and Big Hero 6 on the list of the movies in the canon that brought me to the edge of tears. Like Robin Hood and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, this is actually a fairly libertarian movie. First, it has a message about the importance of individualism. This is shown both in Judy following her dreams despite all the naysayers, and in the overall message against racism. It is also shown in the funniest scene in the movie. All of the DMV workers are sloths. I couldn’t stop laughing during that. Oh, and the main villain is a manipulative politician that uses fear to turn people against each other so she can seize and stay in power. It is the first mystery movie since The Great Mouse Detective (though I suppose Big Hero 6 did have mystery movie elements). The mystery isn’t that hard to figure out though. I knew whom the main villain would end up being partway through the movie. I worry they’re starting to overuse that. It’s not really a plot twist if I expect it to happen. Despite that there are plenty of other great things that make this movie enjoyable. I loved all the Easter eggs and animalized parodies of real world products. I also loved Mr. Big (Maurice LeMarche), the shrew crime boss, as a parody of The Godfather. I think my favorite part of the movie might be the fact that Alan Tudyk voices a weasel named Duke Weaslton. I also love that he was selling bootleg DVDs that were parodies of the studio’s other works.[1]

The characters are pretty good too. Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) is a small-town rabbit with dreams of becoming a police officer. She graduates from the academy as valedictorian and gets assigned to the eponymous city’s police department as its first bunny cop, initially as a meter maid. On her first day she gets swindled by a fox named Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman). The next day she engages in a pursuit without permission, and as a result Chief Bogo (Idris Elba) prepares to fire her. The last minute intervention of Assistant Mayor Bellwether (Jenny Slate) causes Bogo to give her 48 hours to solve the mystery of why predators are going savage or else resign. Her first lead takes her to Nick, and she manages to blackmail him into helping her. These two interact so well with each other and there is real chemistry and character development that goes on. Nick’s backstory is quite sad. The two manage to track down the missing predators and implicate Mayor Lionheart (J. K. Simmons). At the press conference, Judy unintentionally makes racist comments about predators, which offends Nick and he ends their friendship. Judy feels like a failure and returns home. After a bit of a deus ex machina Judy solves why predators were going savage. She returns to Zootopia and begs Nick’s forgiveness. He forgives her, and the two expose Bellwether as the mastermind. Nick then becomes the city’s first fox cop. The movie ends with everyone happily attending a Gazelle (Shakira) concert.

The animation is on point. Like its immediate predecessors it has amazing CGI. I especially enjoyed seeing all the different environments that make up the titular city. Music is the weak point. There’s really only one song, “Try Everything,” sung by Shakira. It plays as Judy travels to Zootopia for the first time, and again at the concert at the end of the movie. It has a nice enough message I guess. I’m just not a Shakira fan. They made the same mistake they did with Big Hero 6. Having major music stars do one song for a non-musical movie just doesn’t do it for me.

Overall though, you should definitely go see this one. It has a lot of humor, action, a good message, solid story, memorable characters, and great animation. I don’t like the song, but it’s far too brief to detract much from the movie overall. It’s not Frozen or Big Hero 6, but it’s still a worthy addition to the canon.

Here’s the updated list:

  1. The Hunchback of Notre Dame
  2. The Lion King
  3. Frozen
  4. Aladdin
  5. The Jungle Book
  6. Robin Hood
  7. Fantasia
  8. Beauty and the Beast
  9. The Little Mermaid
  10. Mulan
  11. Big Hero 6
  12. Hercules
  13. Peter Pan
  14. Tarzan
  15. Pinocchio
  16. One Hundred and One Dalmatians
  17. Lady and the Tramp
  18. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  19. Sleeping Beauty
  20. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
  21. Cinderella
  22. Wreck-It Ralph
  23. Lilo & Stitch
  24. Zootopia
  25. The Rescuers Down Under
  26. The Great Mouse Detective
  27. The Fox and the Hound
  28. The Princess and the Frog
  29. Tangled
  30. Fantasia 2000
  31. The Rescuers
  32. Meet the Robinsons
  33. Bolt
  34. The Emperor’s New Groove
  35. The Sword in the Stone
  36. The Aristocats
  37. Winnie the Pooh
  38. Oliver & Company
  39. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
  40. Alice in Wonderland
  41. Dinosaur
  42. Brother Bear
  43. Pocahontas
  44. Atlantis: The Lost Empire
  45. Bambi
  46. Dumbo
  47. Saludos Amigos
  48. Melody Time
  49. Make Mine Music
  50. Fun and Fancy Free
  51. The Three Caballeros
  52. Treasure Planet
  53. The Black Cauldron
  54. Home on the Range
  55. Chicken Little

[1]Pig Hero 6”? Hilarious!

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Ranking the Disney Animated Canon, Part 6