Streaming review: 'Zootopia+'
It's been six years since Zootopia was released to theaters. In that time, a lot has happened. America has managed the change to two different presidents. Across the pond in the UK, where the movie was known as Zootropolis, they've managed to beat that turnover rate for heads of state with four new prime ministers, plus a new monarch. That's kind of prescient for a movie where the titular city burns through two mayors over the course of its plot.
In all that time, Zootopia has managed to remain popular with furries. It also, perhaps a bit surprisingly, has managed to remain popular with non-furries. It is one of only three Disney Animated Studio movies to break into the billion dollar club (the other two are both Frozen). It also managed critical and industry awards accolades to go along with the commercial success, giving it the hat trick of movie success criteria. So, a lot of people would probably not be averse to a sequel, right?
Well, how about a series of animated shorts released over half a decade later with little fanfare to a streaming service, instead?
Zootopia+ was announced as a sort of streaming television series, and IMDB still categorizes it as such, but as each "episode" is a little over five minutes, Zootopia+ is more accurately a series of shorts, little different to the Maraschino Ruby short that came with The Bad Guys Blu-ray and/or DVD. It's a nice bonus, but that's about it. If it wasn't bundled with the package, I wouldn't bother. And The Bad Guys physical disc came out two months after the movie's theatrical release, not six years, so this all comes off as a bit anti-climactic.
Of course, there are six shorts on the programme - for the most part they're better than The Maraschino Ruby, anyway. They basically take six supporting characters or pairs of characters and tell a story about them that was essentially happening in the background of the movie. So, in the first short, while movie protagonist Judy Hopps is on the train to Zootopia, her parents try to rescue a younger sibling who's snuck aboard. Subsequent shorts feature Fru Fru, Duke Weaselton, Mr. Big, Officer Clawhauser and DMV sloths Flash and Priscilla.
The shorts are well-animated, in part because they frequently feature actual scenes from the original movie inserted into them — which, once again, is kind of annoying if you wanted something new, but has the upshot of meaning that, in order to not look horrible, the shorts' animation has to be to the theatrical feature's level.
The "series" is easy to marathon, as it has a total run time a little over a half an hour, including credits. The first, featuring the Hopps, is a strong beginning, and the final short, featuring the sloths (but really the only short starring a brand new character, the otter waitress Sam) is a decent finale. However, my favorite shorts ended up being the shrew-centric ones; Mr. Big's strategic mumbling while telling his life story is the best joke in the series. Meanwhile, one of Fru Fru's bridesmaids, Mandy the mouse, is the best new character, despite not actually doing a whole lot. On the other hand, my least favorite of the bunch is the reality talent contest parody featuring Clawhauser. Maybe I just don't like funny animal parodies of talent shows?
It's another case of, if you have a Disney+ subscription, you might as well watch it. As I said earlier, it might not be really worth it if it wasn't part of a bundle, but it's part of a bundle, so that's not a dealbreaker. And, honestly, since original movie director Rich Moore is no longer with Disney, if Zootopia never gets that sequel, I'm fine with just this.