Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Animal Kingdom

Directors: Bryon Howard, Rich Moore, and Jared Bush
Voice Talent: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, Jenny Slate, Octavia Spencer, J.K. Simmons, Alan Tudyk, Shakira
Released: March 4, 2016
Oscar nominations:

Best Animated Feature (won)

After this movie won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature, I wanted to check it out, especially since I knew it had been released on Netflix. If you had asked me to place a bet on which movie would win Best Animated movie, I would have put all my money on Moana. That just seemed like the more Oscar-ish movie to me. Even after watching Zootopia, I still think that. Don't get me wrong...I really enjoyed Zootopia, but I'm still surprised Moana didn't win. I didn't know too much about Zootopia going into it, the only thing I knew was that it was about animals who lived together, both predators and prey, living in peaceful harmony. We get a little narrative at the beginning explaining how this came to happen.

Judy Hopps (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin) is a bunny who wants to make the world a better place. Her goal is to move from the country where she lives with her parents and her 275 brothers and sisters to Zootopia, the big city, where she wants to be a police officer. Not just any police officer, but the first bunny police officer. She trains with animals that are much bigger than her: bulls, lions, tigers, polar bears, elephants, rhinos; but with a lot of dedication and hard work and cleverness she manages to complete her training and joins the team. She eagerly awaits her first duty as a police officer, but is disappointed when her cape buffalo boss, Chief Bogo (voiced by Idris Elba) gives her parking ticket duty. Judy is determined to write so many tickets in an allotted amount of time and because of her tenacity, she manages to do it. I did love every time she heard the little click of a meter going off, she lifted one of her ears.

The interesting thing about Zootopia, despite it having both prey and predator and despite it having the biggest animals from elephants to the smallest of mice, it only has mammals. There are no reptiles, insects, birds, fish. Look, I understand there are millions of species of animals and not all of them can be represented in this movie, so I'm fine with it being only mammals, but I am a little confused that there were no primates. No monkeys, apes, gorillas, etc. Those are some of the most popular animals at zoos and you would think in a place called ZOOtopia, they would make sure to have a couple. If there were any, they certainly weren't in the foreground and didn't have any lines. Why not throw in a capuchin monkey named Marcel? I don't know; I just thought it was weird that in a city full of a variety of animals, there were no primates. Maybe in the sequel, perhaps? You just know there's going to be a sequel because this is a world full of so many possibilities. Not to mention it made a bucketload of money at the box office! And it did win an Oscar, let's not forget that! 

Judy sees a fox with his young son enter an ice cream parlor run by elephants. One of the elephants is scooping out the ice cream with his trunk...oh, ew! Judy is suspicious because she has always learned never to trust foxes especially since she was always bullied by one when she was younger. The fox wants a jumbo pop for his son's birthday, but the elephant refuses to serve him one and tells him to go to an establishment that caters to his own kind. Judy steps in and tells the elephant she's going to write him up for having one of his employees scooping up ice cream without the proper sanitation. I laughed when she said "Are your customers aware they're getting snot and mucus with their ice cream?" and one of the customers overhears her and sprays ice cream into his mate's face. To avoid the citation, the elephant agrees to let the fox buy a jumbo pop for his son, but he doesn't have enough money. Judy feels bad and buys it for the little guy. She learns the fox's name is Nick (voiced by Jason Bateman). She also learns, later that day, that Nick is a con artist and the fennec fox (never heard of a fennec fox, I got this info from Wikipedia!) is not his son, but his partner. She follows the two of them and sees they are making the large elephant jumbo pop into several tiny pops that they sell to hamsters (gerbils?) during their work break. They then collect all the tiny popsicle sticks which have been dyed red from the popsicle and sell it as "redwood". Judy is angry when she sees this and confronts Nick, but he doesn't have any remorse for conning other animals.

Judy later blackmails Nick into helping her when she has promised Mrs. Otterton (voiced by Octavia Spencer) that she will find her missing husband without Chief Bogo's permission. He tells her if she is unable to find him within 48 hours, she will be fired from the Academy. She tells Nick she needs his help or she will report him for never turning in his taxes. Their first stop is a nudist colony owned by a yak (voiced by Tommy Chong). Judy has no idea it's a nudist colony until the yak comes out from behind the front desk and she sees he's wearing no pants and she freaks out. In Zootopia, animals wear clothes and it's weird for them to be naked. The yak takes them outside where an array of animals are doing all kinds of inappropriate things (you know, for being nude). A giraffe is doing a weird yoga pose with its feet in the air. Funny stuff. They get information about Emmitt, the missing otter, and have to go to the DMV (Department of Mammal Vehicles) to check out a license plate number. The scene at the DMV was one of the funniest things I've seen in a long time and I was laughing so much. First of all, I loved that all the employees were sloths and thought was that was absolutely brilliant. Of course the slowest of animals would work at the DMV! Like everybody else in the world, I hate going to the DMV. Not just because of the slow and long lines, but I swear, this has happened to me at least three times: I always check to make sure I have everything, but yet when I get there I'm missing one thing or another so either I have to go home and retrieve it or step aside and lose my place in line to make a phone call to retrieve the information I'm missing. It's so annoying! I hate the DMV! And I think I have to go this year to get my driver's license renewed, ugh! Well, I can just imagine this scene from Zootopia and have a good laugh. Judy and Nick are helped by a sloth named Flash (we later find out he gets his name because he likes to drive fast in his sports car, heh) and he asks him what can he do for them today, with about a three second pause between each word. Judy tries to tell him what she needs before he's completed his sentence, but he doesn't let her until he's said every word he needs to. When she gives him the plate number they need to look up, it's so funny how he's typing each number and letter so slowly and methodically one at a time. Right before he's about to enter the last digit, Nick asks him if he wants to hear a joke, driving Judy absolutely crazy and frustrated. His joke is, "What do you call a three-humped camel?" (The answer: pregnant). It's even funny how Flash reacts to the joke because it takes him awhile to get it, then he starts laughing, very slowly. He then has to tell the female sloth next to him the joke and poor Judy is just beside herself with frustration. When they finally get the info they need, they walk outside and it's dark when it was light when they first walked in. My brother and I showed this scene to our parents on YouTube because we loved that scene so much.

Emmit is not the only citizen of Zootopia to be missing; there is also a handful of other animals that are to be counted for. The other animals are all predators and Judy and Nick come upon them in a lab. They discover that something has happened to make them return to the more primitive, wild side. They overhear Mayor Lionheart (voiced by J.K. Simmons) telling one of the lab technicians he doesn't want the public to know that these predators have gone back to being dangerous, especially since he is a lion and he wants to know why these animals are behaving the way they are. However, he is arrested in suspicion of the missing animals and his assistant, a sheep named Bellweather (voiced by Jenny Slate) becomes the new mayor. Judy goes on ZNN to talk about what happened (and one of the reporters is a porcupine with a quill pen!) and that it is possible for predators to be revolving back to their primitive ways. This upsets Nick greatly because he was bullied by the non-predator kids from his school because they said that foxes can't be trusted and that's why he cons other animals to this day because he knew nobody would ever trust a fox anyway. 

The two of them stop being friends and Judy returns to her hometown of Bunnyburrow where she sells carrots and other vegetables with her parents (and 275 siblings!) It isn't until Gideon Grey, the fox who bullied her as a child comes by and gives her the clue that the substance that is making the predators crazy is a flower called a night howler. She returns to Zootopia and gets Nick back on her side and the two of them start investigating some more. There's a funny scene where they're in a lab and a sheep in a yellow hazmat suit is making an elixir out of the flower. He's talking on the phone to someone and there's a knock on the door and he says, "Walter and Jesse are here with the lattes, I'll call you back." Now Breaking Bad is my favorite show of all time so of course I absolutely loved that. I was a little disappointed that it was a sheep and, you know, not a badger! 

I totally called it that Bellweather was in charge before it was revealed she was behind the whole turning the prey against the predators. She traps Judy and Nick and shoots Nick with what is the dangerous flower serum so he will revert to his natural ways and kill Judy but what she doesn't know is that Judy and Nick have put blueberries in her dart gun so they get one over on her. Bellweather is caught because Judy has recorded her confessing that this was her idea. She thought that 90% of the population, which is prey, could be united agains the 10% that is predator. (Is that really how it adds up in the real world? Ninety percent of animals are prey? I guess I never really thought of it). 

The movie ends with Bellweather in jail and the rest of Zootopia dancing to pop star Gazelle's (voiced by Shakira) new hit song, "Try Everything". She is an angel with horns as one character put it. I felt sorry for the animals who were behind giraffes! 

A very fun and cute movie with beautiful animation. I highly recommend it. Go watch it now if you have Netflix.