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Was ‘Zootopia+’ what we expected?

In 2016, Walt Disney Animation released its 55th animated film, “Zootopia.” Many fans of the film have been patiently waiting for a sequel to the movie to pick up right where the film left off. However, Disney decided to take a different approach to the “Zootopia” world and announced they were going to release a web-television series that is simply titled “Zootopia+.”

Released on Nov. 9, 2022 on Disney+, “Zootopia+” is actually a series of short films that take place during certain scenes of the movie. Separated into six, each one runs for just under 15 minutes. Many of them parody film genres such as film noir, musicals, romantic-comedies and action, and it parodies television shows like “The Real Housewives” and dance competitions. The films include many of the characters from the original, including Bonnie Hopps (Bonnie Hunt), Fru-Fru (Leah Latham), Officer Clawhauser (Nate Torrence) and of course, Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman). Most of these short films expand on many of the characters from the original film’s plot — such as the preparation for Fru-Fru’s wedding — and reveal a lot of the characters’ backstories, like Mr. Big’s (Maurice LaMarche) backstory in coming to America. 

The series was developed to actually have ten episodes, but due to an order from corporate to release a six-episode series, the directors Trent Correy and Josie Trinidad were kind of limited. The idea of the series was that they wanted to explore secondary characters from the film instead of just expanding on the main characters’ backstories and personalities. The creators brought back composer Michael Giacchino for the short film about Duke Weaselton (Alan Tudyk), but also brought in Curtis Green and Giacchino’s son Mick for the rest of the music for the series. 

The series, though short, has several positives going for it. First off, the animation is absolutely breathtaking. Being that this is a Disney project, the animation doesn’t let up, and it doesn’t become too dated, either. I also love most of the stories that the series centers on. I thought that the episode about Fru-Fru’s wedding was very clever, in that there is an expansion for how the wedding was prepared and it even shows a bit of what it is like for wedding preparations to not go the way they were planned. I also loved the episode on Mr. Big’s backstory, as it resembled “The Godfather: Part II” to a tee, and I was also very interested in Mr. Big’s story and what purpose he served in the film. I also thought the order of the episodes coinciding with the film was a nice touch.

While the series had the aforementioned positives, there were also some negatives that make it lose a lot of points in my book. Firstly, many of the short films were not really necessary, or they just made no sense whatsoever. One example is the one about Duke Weaselton, because it was just totally out-of-place. I was so confused when it turned into a musical all of the sudden. I also was not a big fan of the one with Clawhauser and Chief Bogo (Idris Elba). It was not necessary to the story, and it was a huge detractor for me. But the biggest problem I had with the series was that I didn’t particularly want a series of short films that just took place during the events of the first movie. I would much rather have had a direct sequel to the original film than just a series of shorts reiterating the events.

In conclusion, I am very split down the middle on this series, as it has a lot of positives but also has that one major negative that is it being a not-totally-necessary continuation of “Zootopia.”

Title: “Zootopia+”

Streaming: Disney+

Directors: Trent Correy and Josie Trinidad

Starring: Bonnie Hunt, Alan Tudyk, Idris Elba

If you liked: “Zootopia”

Shamrocks: 3.5 out of 5

Contact Nicole Bilyak at nbilyak01@saintmarys.edu.

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