Saturday, March 19, 2016


Call me crazy, but when I take my kids to the movies, I want them to have fun.

When that rare moment of not breathing in popcorn occurs and I have a second to glance over at them, I'm always psyched to see one of my little ones engrossed in a flick. My daughter Violet is two and a half (and has more letters in her name than theatrical movies conquered), so let me be honest, when I check in on her? It's usually to see if she's looking at the screen. Or awake. 

Or still in our row.

But my son? I'm always hoping to catch my 6 year-old smiling. Usually he's sitting in that annoying trapezoidal way that little kids do (also inhaling salty snacks), and somewhat distressingly, he always looks like the weight of the world is on his tiny shoulders. And while I used to think it was his fault (or mine), after a couple years of going to kids' movies, I now know better.

It's because he's paying attention. 

Disney's latest, Zootopia, almost crumbles under the weight of the (numerous) social burdens it carries, as the increasingly downward trajectory of race-relations in this country is the talking animal movie. What I thought might be a cute tale about an animal society much like our own, instead is a timely allegory about a deliberately fragmented society and its rampant xenophobia. Oh, and cute little bunnies, too. 

See, simmering just above all the ugly racial stuff, is a different tale of inequality, this one of the little girls can do anything big boys can do (and likely, even better) variety. That shame of humanity might have been enough to be the message in a message movie, but not here. Nope.

Judy Hopps (charmingly voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin) is a tiny rabbit with a big dream: being a cop in the beautifully-conceived Zootopia. Raised by local-yokel parents with zero expectations, Judy refuses to let anything stand in the way of her destiny. And apparently, her destiny is to be a meter-maid.

Whether it's because she's small, or a girl, or a small girl, Judy isn't given any respect on the force. While a writer somewhere was ticking off boxes of wrongs to be righted (I really wanted to go with writed, just so you know), Judy stands up for a fox just trying to get a tasty treat at an all-elephant diner (hmmm...elephants aren't being tolerant? Can't imagine any symbolism there...). The elephants don't like his kind, but eventually relent when the by-the-book bunny threatens the manager with countless health-code violations. Aww.

It sounds so wrong, but I really wanted to pet her.
Turns out the fox is a small-time hustler, and Judy inadvertently helps him with a major scam. This fox, Nick Wilde (voiced with sleazy-confidence by Jason Bateman), knows a thing or two about some shady dealings in Zootopia, and ends up partnering up with Judy on a missing persons (um, otters?) case. Along the way they'll discover a huge government-led conspiracy designed to keep certain groups down and/or locked away. It got so intense at times, my wife and I would exchange raised eyebrows at the heavy-handed message being hammered down upon us.
Good thing every thing was so dang ador-able, huh? 

Not adorable, and not featuring a message of any kind, are the Yays and Boos. Maybe it's because we've been watching entirely too many political debates/town halls/gladiator matches, or what have you, but this little flick really seemed like Welcome to How Awful the World is, Kids: Vol 1. How about we lighten things up around here?

Something about this reminds me of the Simpsons.
  • DNA. I honestly don't remember why that was amusing, but I'm pretty sure it was the way someone said it. Though my son has formed the unhealthy/awesome habit of saying diNO DNA whenever he gets the chance.
  • It's good to have goals. Writing 200 tickets is rad. But doing it before noon? Even...radder?
  • That elephant-fox kid was insanely adorable.
  • Oh, and office cheetah/leopard dude was pretty cool, too. Kind of a Jonah Hill vibe on that guy.
  • It's called a hustle, sweetheart.
  • That little rodent town (pictured to the left) was awesome. Should've set the whole movie there!
  • Not gonna lie, I could probably listen to Jason Bateman talk all day. So dreamy...
  • Backpedaling a little, but it's not like I didn't like the message. It's actually pretty cool, you know, if they'd dial it back a little bit.
  • Two words: Bootleg. Movies.
  • Hippie dude's flawless memory was almost as cool as his place of employment. Almost.
  • And finally, the DMV Sloths! Let's be honest, even if they totally mislead the audience into thinking Zootopia will be a light-hearted good time, those dang ol' sloths were so great, I don't even mind being sucker-punched in the gut by the rest of it.
Perfectly capturing how it feels to talk to your boss 99% of the time.
  • Sure they were charming, but c'mon Judy's Parents! You guys are the worst. Not only do you have little faith in your daughter, but your phone call timing stinks, too.
  • I've had some terrible Bachelor Meals, but Carrots for One looks extra terrible. Like, Mama Celeste levels of bad.
  • Those naked yoga animals were rather disturbing, no? I mean, zoo animals' junk is bad when they're just standing there, but stretching it out? Yikes. (slightly off topic: I can't unsee the elephant I saw pissing at the zoo...two years ago).
  • Nick's Boy Scout memory was pretty traumatic, don't you think? (no,'s not that kind of Boy Scout memory...but still pretty bad)
  • For a second, I thought we were gonna be home in record time. Welp, case solved, we'll be seeing you. Turns out, you can put the Mystery Machine back in park, as there was still an hour left after Judy solves the whodunnit.
  • So...Walter and Jesse, let me ask you, that was a meth-lab, right? In a Disney movie? Mmmkay.
  • Without exaggerating, I felt like there were times this film was an animated version of how you'd explain a Donald Trump rally to a four-year old.
  • And finally, this was my daughter Violet's third cinematic adventure, and she didn't make it beyond the thirty minute mark. The good news? Clearly she's the daughter of my wife. The bad news? When she fell asleep in my lap, I dropped an inappropriate amount of popcorn in her hair. And what's worse? I attempted to eat it anyway, and sorta/kinda ended up with a mouthful of her luxurious mane. Uh, sorry about that, honeybunny.
For Easter, I bought the kids The Peanuts Movie. I'm hoping it's a light-hearted tale about Charlie Brown, Snoopy and his other goofball friends. was made last year. So, probably not, huh? 

It'll probably be about bullying, acceptance and the pressures that society places on adolescent romances. 

Good grief.


  1. If it helps, I don't remember anything about bullying in The Peanuts Movie. That other stuff? Yeah, it's there, but still pretty light. Lol on intolerant elephants and Boy Scout memories.

    1. Phew. Looking forward to some lighthearted family fun, not subjecting my kids to how flat-out awful the world is. We'll save that for the local news teases, and Republican campaign highlights.

      For the record...I was never a Boy Scout. Just putting that out there.

  2. The elephants aren't being tolerant? Huh. That symbolism has all the subtlety of a two-by-four to the head.

    I'll be back to read the full review after I've seen the movie.

    1. I don't know why I never responded to this comment, but you're exactly right. If you're paying attention, there isn't any subtlety in this one. I remember it being pretty damned intense.

      Also intense, is the MASSIVE support for this film. And I'm not sure if that wave of adoration was because it's a good movie (it is) or if it supports many people's personal agendas. That may be overselling it...but I'm not a 100% sure, you know?

  3. I'm still baffled about how long ago they cast this thing - I mean, Shakira? Has she done anything at all in the past decade?

    1. I'm still baffled by how long it took me to respond to this comment. What a dick move on my part.

      Anyway...not sure what the Hell Shakira Shakira was doing here, but I guess I'm okay with it. I think. Maybe Cher was busy?