2016 animated liberal propaganda

Rating: 15/20 (Jen: 15/20; Abbey: 17/20; Buster: 20/20)

Plot: A bunny becomes a cop in the big city of Zootopia and, since she's a bunny and not taken seriously by her superiors despite excelling at police academy, is put in charge of writing parking tickets. She has higher aspirations, however, and finds herself involved in a missing otter case. She gets help from a conman (well, con-fox) but soon finds that she might be in over her little furry head.

I'm not going to tell you anything specific that happens in this movie, but it may still somewhat spoil things for you. So if you haven't seen the movie, you might not want to read this.

Mike Pence, the governor of my beloved Hoosier state and the white-haired Muppet man who could wind up becoming vice president if our worst nightmares come true, once wrote about Mulan, claiming that the movie was "liberal propaganda" aimed at tricking children into thinking women should be in the military. I have a feeling he would really hate this movie.

For the first half of this movie, I didn't really get the appeal. I had heard that there was a lot going on beneath the surface and that it wasn't just a movie about funny-talking animated animals engaged in hijinks, but other than a sort-of cliched "You can break expectations and be whatever you want to be!" message, I saw no depth at all. And then, my friends, the movie went there and threw down some gauntlets. My wife brought up parallels to Black Lives Matter and the ongoing problem American police officers have with killing black men which are at the center of current events, but this actually--if I read things correctly--goes way deeper than that. This story actually parallels the CIA's selling of crack to blacks in inner-cities in the 1980s. And that makes it one of the more daring pieces of popular culture that's come along in a very long time.

Just think about it. Cute and funny animated animals, some slapstick, some funny voices, a lot of creative animated ideas, funny juxtapositions of animals that show their differences in sizes and personalities as they live together, those slow-motion sloths you probably saw in the previews. It's entertainment, the kind of thing my six-year-old is going to laugh at and probably want to watch again tomorrow. But then there's this ultra-dark subtext that's going to go over the heads of every child watching this and a large percentage of adults. It really amazes me that Mickey Mouse had the balls.

It makes me wonder what I'm missing in movies like Home or Despicable Me 2.

The movie's fine without all of that subtext. The characters are likable, there are a few funny moments, there really are some nifty ideas (the different districts was a fun touch), and there's all kinds of movement and background details that would make this worth checking out again. I liked the lessons in the story even when the story kind of goes exactly where you expect it to.

But that story beneath the story? Damn! I think I watched the last 20 minutes of this movie with my jaw on the floor.


CORY said...

I liked this more than expected. The overtly political theme of not letting fear rule us was welcome and timely...especially considering what is being spewed in the real world. Beyond that, bits with wolves and sloths and foxes were very entertaining. Is it me or can Jason Batemen do no wrong? A 16.

Shane said...

I didn't even recognize Bateman's voice, but Jen sort of looked at me like I was stupid when I admitted that.

Speaking of stupid, I've talked to a couple people about how I think this parallels the CIA feeding cocaine to inner-city blacks a few decades ago, and they both kind of gave me Jen's "You're stupid" look. Is that those-flowers-are-drugs idea too much of a stretch or something?