I'm a 32 year old male and my tastes in animation are broad and varied but they mainly include Disney movies. However, I like watching movies and shows that are different and seem to stand out to me.
Animation, Acting, Singing, Dancing
Animation that I love:
The Fox and the Hound, Bambi, Lady and the Tramp, Avatar: The Last Airbender
At a basic level, SvtFOE reminds me of an odd mix or Courage the Cowardly Dog and Sailor Moon, were Sailor Moon somehow made into a witch that looks like Betty Spaghetti and saddled with freakish magical powers strong enough to destroy the very fabric of all space and time(as well as turn stuff into fluffy laser shooting puppies).
As I was watching Marco and Star do their... dimension hopping thing(done via a black hole carving pair of scissors), I realized that Marco and Star had chemistry, chemistry I haven't seen in a cartoon since, well, probably Batman and Robin or the aforementioned Powerpuff Girls. In any standard cartoon, Star would've been the damsel in distress, written in only for romance, with Marco being the one to save the day. Or a male and female hero team would've gone off into obvious directions, such as irreconcilable differences between girly and macho. While there might still be time later on to sneak in the mushy stuff, it is never heavily leaned on that there could be romantic tension between the two. Despite her magical pretty princess outward appearance, Star is also quite capable of delivering a punch to the face. Marco is karate expert but is also just a normal human boy(and is thus probably the more likely of the two to get captured). He also likes a ringtone called Space Unicorn.
The characterizations of these two honestly made me start to care for them. Certainly enough to laugh at the lame jokes and sight gags, as if they were played straight. And certainly enough to go along for the ride during the episode's intriguingly gripping climax, upon reflection of which, I never realized this show's episodes HAD climaxes. It was such a shame the writers had to sabotage the emotional impact somewhat by resorting to a deus ex machina. Even so, I can't wait to see what weirdness Season Two brings. They really should try and kick up the villains.
Watching Zootopia, I got a vibe similar to Cats Don't Dance. Bright eyed, fresh face youngster hops on a mode of transportation, rides through a pretty title sequence away from Podunk America and towards a bright future in a big city, but instead finds injustice. The difference between the two movies is in the way it handles the social themes. Cats Don't Dance seems to tackle straightforward stereotyping and ends in a chipper "nothing can go wrong" attitude.
Zootopia, on the other hand, seems to tackle society's stickier ills. It tries to hold up a mirror to the real world and go "This is what you are." I couldn't help but think of the discussions and fights over today's more contentious societal topics, like the battle over transgenders and where to use the bathrooms or the rights of homosexuals to get married. Sadly, I imagine most parents won't even broach these sticky topics with their kids or, even worse, remain just as thoroughly dense to it as the children and see only the cute, fuzzy animals cracking wise. There's also no such happily ever after ending here.
Zootopia doesn't linger on this heavy stuff too long. It thankfully drops it in small doses in between the more relatable story of Judy Hopps and her personal obstacles, which weaves in the thematically similar but more digestible lesson regarding "You can't do X because you're Y." Plus rude neighbors. Who hasn't dealt with that?
The question many viewers will probably wonder is if Zootopia should be watched as some kind of lesson preaching movie or as a movie to take in for the funny stuff(it is hopefully assumed that most people realize by now that this movie has next to zero musical numbers). It thankfully does a lot of the second, probably far better than the first. While I wouldn't say that I guffawed a bunch of times like some of Disney's classics, there are a number of good zingers in this movie, all played with impeccable facial expressions and comedic timing, and with hardly any usage of groan inducing puns or pop culture references, although this movie does breathe new life into the classic butt joke in one moment that's both tense and hilarious.
That's also not to say that this movie isn't really good when it's not trying to be funny either. In fact I found the characters so charming that it was easy to become emotionally invested in them during key heartwarming moments.
It's just a slight letdown that this movie stumbles, but only slightly, in fits and spurts here and there. Underneath the hefty messages lies a cop story. It is in this territory that the movie doesn't quite gel. It's not hard to spot how this movie drops macguffins and plot coupons left and right. It also gets slightly clumsy in the deliverance of its messages of diversity and tolerance, through which the movie intermingles its "you can be anything you want" themes. If it is to be believed that Zootopia tackles all of today's topical ills plaguing society, such as the current battle over transgenderism and homosexuality--I mean let's face it, the twin barbs mentioned within of "fear is a powerful motivator" and "we are the majority" could be applied to anything--then the continued usage of the word "predator" would probably seem rather icky, as "predator" is the exact word real life bigots use to justify their worldviews. Likewise, there's an underlying theme of "you can rise above your nature, your biology", which is a lovely sentiment, but in human-land certain natures aren't anything that's broken and shouldn't be seen as something that needs fixing, altered or "risen above".
I can't say if this movie justifies the glowing reception it's been given, but it does feel like a very important film for Disney. I imagine the mascot for the film's message, the very sexy Gazelle, will soon become a favored character. It's the kind of movie that feels like a soothing warm bath that takes away your aches, yet you discovered you burned the batch of coffee you're trying to enjoy with it. It could just be me reading too deeply into things. Yet I couldn't imagine anyone watching this film just to sit back, turn off brain, and look at the cute, fuzzy animals.
Even so, when it comes right down to it, it IS the characters, it IS the fact that we are watching cute fuzzy animals and that their personalities are so charming that raises this movie up and makes it stick with you.
Misfit one meets misfit two. They go on misfit adventure. You know how it goes with these types of movies. Incredibly stupid race of outerspace aliens kidnap the entire human race and relocate the entire lot to Australia, where everybody just sort of goes along with it, with nary a military conflict or attempt at escaping back to everybody's countries of origins on airplanes.
The characters are all flat as a cardboard. The movie even seems to acknowledge that fact by broadcasting early on how all these silly aliens aren't unique, don't have time for fun, don't do this or that(other than being good at running away), and seemingly wear their feelings on their skin. And to what means to the story are all these trite elements made? Absolutely nothing.
Home is so lifeless that saying it gets(ever so slightly) better after the halfway mark is probably the best compliment I can give it. A few mild chuckles are to be had around the Paris scene, but in all honesty, the "Go from here to here to there" motif had been done a lot better with movies like Bolt or Rio, and the "Highly improbable and extremely silly plot" thing could be better digested with Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs.
Most people will probably remark on the animation style. Purists will probably bristle at the CGI style and wonder why the movie isn't hardcore hand drawn animation. Curious people like me will more likely wonder "How did they do that?"
The Peanut Movie lacks the shiny, computer game-y kind of look that most CGI movies possess. In most CGI movies, if you took a camera and panned around, you'd see space and the full body of the characters in every direction. In The Peanuts Movie, the characters only seem to exist in a front to back form, and if you panned a camera around, you'd reach a point where the characters would look unrecognizable, until the animator decided to change the character shape to adapt to the shift in viewpoint. You'd also most likely crash into the sky in the background if you went far enough. There are a few scenes that are testaments to this "3D imitating 2D" style, most notably a scene where Snoopy somehow manages to squash his body to hide behind a lamp. You couldn't pull this off with a full CGI movie.
This movie is also set up like a series of small vignettes tied together in one string. It's this approach of a bunch of little movies making up one big movie that makes it all the more refreshing, instead of re-imagining our favorite characters into something they're not and cramming them into "The Big Epic" as is the norm for so many animated films. Some may complain that Snoopy's fantasies of being a World War I flying ace break up the flow of the story, but they're often patterned around what Charlie Brown was feeling the scene before, and I find that these bits contain some of the best humor.
It is to many's great joy that this movie is fully faithful to the Peanuts name, and it proudly flies its themes as a symbol to these characters' enduring qualities. The sight gags. Charlie Brown's bad luck. Snoopy's tenacity. The musical ditties. It's all here. Whether today's kids would latch onto these "Charlie Brown-isms" and "Peanut Psychology", like the kite and the football and "good grief" and even pencil chewing, these little things that make Peanuts "Peanuts", as readily as nostalgic grownups remains to be seen. However the creators could've easily just hit all the regular family failsafes and make another Peabody and Sherman movie or something like The Chipmunks. They didn't. If I mentioned above that this movie is great for what it doesn't have than for what it does, it's because this movie doesn't have any of the usual cogs, wheels, bells and whistles than most contemporary animated movies go for to try and "hip it up". But you probably already guessed that. There are a few pop songs here and there that sound like would be extremely out of place in the 60s. Unlike the songs in Rio, all the songs are harmless and of the "just have fun and be true to yourself" nature. The presence of Bamboleo by The Gypsy Kings makes it all worthwhile.
Other than these minor quibbles, this movie is just Charlie being Charlie, Snoopy being Snoopy, Woodstock being Woodstock, and all the rest of the gang being just as wonderful. It could've easily been a four or five part Peanuts special, probably more 80s Peanuts than 60s, with a somewhat treacly message at the end of being yourself. But this is a-okay. The world needs more of this movie's idyllic sensitivity. And everybody at the end goes home a winner. Even Charlie Brown.
At least until the next school year, school dance, book report, and shot at The Red Baron.
Blu and Jewel are just as cute as since when we first left them way back in the first movie(which didn't seem all as long ago as it really is). They've settled into each other and are just as madly in love. But to get one thing out of the way, Blu and Jewel are not some fairy tale prince and princess living out some fantasy romance for all time. I think this is what makes them so appealing to me. Granted, there have been other animated romances that don't fit the "prince and princess" mold ala Disney, including a couple of anthropomorphized cars, but there's something about Blu and Jewel that seem to stand out more to me. They are suburbia given feathers. They dance and cuddle in one scene. Then in the next, they are in a comfortable routine of modern life. They have foibles and look like they had gotten into their odd spats a couple times in the past. They are a flawed and real-ish, if not realistic, couple that don't lose any of the wonderful romantic gooeyness of any of the more well known Disney couples. Plus they have to deal with family life, for now they come with kids because "Like OMG, they had seeeeeeeeeeeex!"
Oh. Maybe that's why I like them. Lest we forget the main point of the first movie. Then corporate headquarters came to a brilliant realization that incest is wrong, leading to the plot of this movie.
"Hey! There are more of us out there!"
Blu and Jewel's routines of smoochiness one minute and neurosis the next almost made me forget that I was supposed to be watching a movie with other details to pay attention to. This movie honestly doesn't have the smoothness and cohesiveness of the first one and almost threatens to fall apart about halfway in. In fact where the first one made minor mistakes in its comedic timing, this movie makes a major mistake in packing way... too... much... STUFF! Seriously. You have NO idea how many tiny subplots go on in this film unless you actually see the movie. This leaves quite a few interesting threads not quite as fulfilling as they should be. The "grumpy father-in-law" story isn't as "Meet the Fockers" as it needs to be. The "Romeo old flame" story isn't as "Jealousy Jealouspants" as it needs to be. There's a heavy-handed Ferngully-esque "save the trees" story shoehorned in, an out of nowhere game of bird buddy blitzball, and a talent-scouting plot that for some reason leads to a scene of accidental nightmare fuel. It's enough to make one dizzy.
This isn't enough to make me not enjoy a film like this, though. Although poor Nigel, the menacing villain of the first movie, has been relegated to something of a comic relief, the movie gives us a couple secondary characters to occasionally shift attention away from our main couple to give some variety. The kids are great and occasionally funny. They are just on the right side of cuddly without seeming like pushover balls of fluff. Then there's a cute poison frog with some kind of unrequited crush on Nigel. She sings some kind catchy love song that kind of reminds me Phantom of the Opera in its broodingness. Then there's Aunt Mimi. Oh Aunt Mimi, lay off the coffee!
It's such a shame this movie had to end feeling like it couldn't find a cohesive vision like the first one did. The sequel actually doesn't have so much groan-inducing humor as the first one and even has better songs. But the characters and Blu and Jewel's nuclear family antics more than make up for the shortcomings. And there's always still love, the Latin beat, and Rio.