Sunday!

One of the tricks I use to help interminable flights speed up just a *LITTLE* bit is the whole “maybe watch a kids’ movie?” if such a thing is available and, lemme tell ya, I am *SOOOOOOOOO* glad that my flight happened to have Zootopia on it.

It has a simple conceit: The basic setting is established by having us, the viewer, show up in the middle of a childrens’ play where they act out and explain: We used to live in a world with carnivores and herbivores but now, now that we’re civilized, both kinds of animals get along with each other.

Once this opening scene is established, we’re off to the races.

Our protagonist is Judy Hopps, a bunny (herbivorous), who has decided that she is going to break away from her small town life and her parents’ farming business and she’s going to go off and become a police officer in the Biggest of the Big Cities: Zootopia.

We watch her go through the police academy, get assigned to her first post, have to deal with the big guys in the big police station not taking her seriously, have to deal with the big guys in the big city not taking her seriously, and then we see what she can do when she puts her mind to it.

The movie tackles some seriously serious topics like racism and sexism using the carnivore and herbivore differences as a proxy but, amazingly, it didn’t really feel *THAT* heavy-handed… Without getting into politics, I think that I’d say that I’m somewhat sensitive and able to tell when they’re dealing with this sort of thing without a particularly light touch and, from where I sat, they handled these topics rather deftly. How deftly? It had a rip-roaring story with a whole bunch of little threads that did a great job of all tying together with each other and it’s 100% possible to just watch the movie as movie and just tell the kids you see it with “you shouldn’t judge other people based on what they look like” and leave it at that. It’s possible to see the movie and think “no politics” and have it be just as enjoyable as it would be otherwise.

It’s got great animation, funny characters thrown in there for the grownups (Tommy Chong, for example, is a voice actor in the flick and he plays an animal that will make you say “I bet they designed that guy with Tommy Chong in mind” the second you see him), and absolutely breathtaking setpieces. We visit the rain forest, we visit the arctic, we visit the desert… and we visit an elephant bakery, we visit a part of town devoted to the needs of the pocket-sized animals, and even a museum that covers such things as the relationship the carnivores and herbivores *USED* to have.

Interesting characters that make decisions and grow and change, wonderful animation, and a tight script.

What’s not to like? You should seriously watch this one with the kids.

So… what are you reading and/or watching?

(Featured Image is “Edison’s Telephonoscope” by George du Maurier from Punch Almanack for 1879)


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Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to AskJaybird-at-gmail.com

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19 thoughts on “Sunday!

  1. Haven’t had time to really watch much this week.

    I did manage to work myself through a couple of brain-candy books, though. One was Neil Jordan’s The Drowned Detective, which was a little too dark and brooding to be a good summer read. I suspect I’d have liked it more if I had read in on a cold, stormy January weekend. The other was Hostile Takeover, the sequel to Shane Kuhn’s The Intern’s Handbook. It was perfect airplane fodder.

    Right now I’m in the middle of Yuval Levin’s The Fractured Republic. It being by Yuval Levin, I was expecting to disagree with him far more than I am. I don’t necessarily agree with his proposed solutions, but his main thesis — that both liberals and conservatives nostalgically focus on returning America to different idyllic pasts that likely never existed, and should instead focus on forging something entirely new based on 21st century realities — is pretty compelling. I recommend it highly, regardless of your political stripe.

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  2. Well, reading two things right now In Dubious Battle Steinbeck. And Hunting Eichmann which lays out Israel’s, well, rendition. There is nothing else to call it at this point, and it has me rethinking many things. No Politics! (bad Aaron)

    I had never read Battle, but I had been hankering for some Steinbeck lately as we vacationed a bit in Monterey. It is glorious.

    Been re-watching Community lately. Man does that show get weird… Changlorious Bastards!

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  3. I am reading the Landbreakers by John Ehle* still. I also am starting the White Road: A Journey into Obsession by Edmund de Waal which is part memoir, part history, and part travelogue on Porcelain.

    I saw Star Trek Beyond on Friday and thought it was enjoyable. Making Sulu gay was rather a non-issue. You find out that Sulu has a daughter in the opening narration (about the sacrifices of spending 5 years in space) and when the crew goes on “shore leave” at a deep space station, you see Sulu’s daughter and husband on the station for family time. The husband and daughter on on screen for a total of 3 minutes max (if that).

    Today I am going to see Our Little Sister by Kore-eda Hirokazu.

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  4. Zootopia is wonderful, every bit as well-written and fun as the best of the Pixar films. And it’s great to see (hear, anyway) Idris Elba being as funny as I always suspected he was.

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  5. Watched Netflix’s Stranger Things, it was soooooooooooooooooooooo good.

    Reading a bit of this and a bit of that. Just finished looking at Robert Mapplethorpe – Archive, halfway through the delicious Ancillary Mercy (and it’s already made me tear up once), reading an old gothic suspense novel when I’m out & about because it is very easy to pick up and put down…

    Started listening to podcasts again, which is fun.

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  6. I’m surprised it took you so long to see Zootopia, it’s really good and yes, approached its core subjects with enormous cleverness. Disney has been on fire the last couple years, they’re absolutely rolling in quality material.

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  7. Our Little Sister was excellent! I am a bit sad that it attracts the typical arthouse audience even though it is based on a manga in this age of fandom. Post forming in my head.

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  8. I find I get more simple escapist joy (and yet, conversely, more interesting topics to think about later) from so-called “kids’ movies” than for ones ostensibly aimed at whatever my demographic would be (47 year old never-married professional woman so I presume that would either be some kind of documentary or perhaps a “meet cute” movie – and I loathe “meet cute” movies).

    I enjoyed Zootopia a lot. I don’t think I enjoyed it *quite* as much as I enjoyed “Big Hero Six” and perhaps it didn’t make me contemplate as much as “Inside Out” did. But oh my, the settings in it are so GORGEOUS….the scene where the monorail is carrying Judy through the different habitats, I have to see that again.

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    • Dude, I totally agree. (You’ve seen The Iron Giant, right? YOU NEED TO SEE THE IRON GIANT.)

      I was of the opinion that Zootopia was the best of the three films you mentioned, though. The sets, the voice acting, even the story. I could think of a handful of things that I would have done to improve Big Hero Six or Inside Out a little bit. A tweak here, a change there… Zootopia? I can’t think of anything that I could even touch without making the movie worse.

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