There’s nothing quite as unique as being the only adult man in a theater full of children for a Disney animated movie. I’ve experienced this on more than one occasion, and regardless of the quality of the film, it’s always a little strange. So, before buying my ticket to ZOOTOPIA, I was prepared for an hour and a half of being vaguely uncomfortable. After all, this review isn’t going to write itself. What I didn’t expect was to see absolutely zero children in the theater. That’s right. A Saturday matinee of Zootopia (a children’s movie about a talking bunny police officer) was nearly sold out with excited adults. And the hype was real.

I wasn’t expecting much from this movie. The various trailers left me a little confused about the premise, but I like Jason Bateman and I like sloths. I did not expect to see the best movie of the new era of Disney. If you’re uninitiated, Disney’s Animated films have been crushing it: Frozen, Wreck-it-Ralph, Big Hero 6. Zootopia is easily my favorite Disney movie since The Lion King. It follows the life and early career of a rabbit named Judy Hopps who moves to the city of Zootopia to become the city’s first rabbit police officer. Zootopia is pretty bizarre because all animals, predators and prey alike, live in harmony. Soon, she teams up with her natural enemy, a fox played by Bateman, to find a missing Otter. From that little synopsis, it sounds like a bunch of films in one and it kind of is. You get a detective noir, a conspiracy thriller, an underdog story, and most importantly a deeply profound insight on prejudice.

Zootopia isn’t holding back on throwing some wicked punches in regards to the themes it’s tackling. Nearly every conflict in the movie can be traced back to the real world political climate. I wish I had movies with such clear and positive messages when I was young, but I’m glad kids will be able to see them today. The entire film is based around the simple philosophy that no matter your background, size, species, or differences everyone should and has the capacity to live together in harmony. The best part is, it conveys this message in the least preachy, most entertaining way. It’s just a great movie.

The conflict is wildly fascinating with well-developed and lovable characters and there’s an even a twist! Officer Hopps is arguably the best female character we’ve seen in cinema in over a decade. She has goals and she attains them without letting any of her naysayers get in the way. Hopps was everything Rey from The Force Awakens should have been. She’s not afraid to ask for help, but can just as well get the job done on her own. By the time she teams up with Nick the fox, we’ve already seen what she’s capable of, but he can assist in everything she lacks. As far as buddy cops go, it doesn’t get much better than this.

I hope you can see why so many adults were in the theater. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that they took their children to see the movie the week before and were coming back with their friends because of how great the story was. Any complaint I may have with the film can be attributed to the fact that I’m way out of the targeted demographic. I’m not a huge Shakira fan is what I’m trying to say. Anyway, see this movie. Take your kids, take your girlfriend, take your coworker. It’s really wonderful.


4 out of 5 Stars


ZOOTOPIA – Dir. Byron Howard, Rich Moore, and Jared Bush


Starring: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, J.K. Simmons

Running Time: 1 hour and 48 minutes

Disney Pixar’s newest film, THE GOOD DINOSAUR, is a prehistoric tale imagining what the world would be like if dinosaurs had never gone extinct. According to them, roles are reversed as the dinosaurs take on human responsibilities such as farming and herding, and the humans become feral, wild animals. This story follows the life of a young and timid Apatosaurus named Arlo. Arlo struggles to make his mark on his father’s farm by helping out and being brave enough to do whatever it takes. His fear causes more and more problems for his family until he finds himself lost in the wilderness with nothing but the company of a young human child to help him find his way back home.

The Good Dinosaur does what all great Pixar films do, makes us care for and empathize with a non-human creature. I don’t know how they do it, but I felt completely connected with that big green dinosaur. Maybe its because his problems were so relatable or maybe its just because he’s so dang cute, but once again Pixar made me actually care for something that doesn’t even exist. And on top of that, the little boy (adorably named Spot) is essentially a wild dog, yet we desperately want him to accomplish his goals as well. Together, Arlo and Spot embark on a treacherous and epic journey through their mysterious landscape, creating an unlikely friendship and discovering bravery. Along the way, they encounter several different strange creatures; some terrifying some enlightening, but all of them are incredibly interesting. While their journey is certainly fun and entertaining, it also has its issues.

If anything, The Good Dinosaur is formulaic. Pixar knows what they are doing and they do it well, but that doesn’t mean they can tell the same stories over and over again with only slight variations to character, setting, and plot. How many times have we seen two unlikely characters team up for a common goal? How many stories are about someone conquering a fear? Why do these movies always make me cry like a baby??? So, yes. The Good Dinosaur did make me cry. I haven’t cried at the movie theater since… INSIDE OUT. Notice a trend here?

But you can’t fault the guys for doing what they’re good at. It’s a creative and original film that just happens to be not quite as creative and original as some of Pixar’s other brilliant works. I also felt as though the pacing was off a hair. It seemed to take way too long to get into the meat of the story and there were certain segments that I felt added unnecessary drama to the primary conflict. Of course, these are things that your children aren’t going to care about. They’ll surely think it’s cute and fun and maybe even a little scary at parts, but they’ll enjoy it. You’ll enjoy it as well, because Pixar is amazing at creating movies for wide demographics. In fact, my favorite scene in the entire movie (which might have only lasted 30 seconds) was when Arlo and Spot eat some bad fruit that makes them trip into a psychedelic nightmare. It was hilarious, but obviously my little cousin had no idea what was going on.

So, is The Good Dinosaur worth the price of admission? Absolutely… if you have a child to bring along with you. It’s not as great as what we’ve come to expect from the studio, but it’ll probably make you cry and will definitely make you laugh. I might actually have to go see it again, because I missed the Pizza Planet truck that they always hide in their films..



3 / 5 Stars


Run Time: 1 hour 40 minutes

Welcome to the tenth installment of What to Watch Right Now! I’m not sure if you’ve been keeping up or not, but make sure to go back and see if some of my recommendations are still on Netflix and watch them! I wouldn’t recommend them if they weren’t awesome. And trust me… I have good taste. That’s why we’re watching cartoons today

THE SECRET OF KELLS – Dirs. Tomm Moore, Nora Twomey (2009) IMDb

images.duckduckgo.comThis is a fairly unknown Irish animated film about a young boy named Brendan in a medieval monastery that is being held under siege by a Viking raid. When a mysterious old “Illuminator” arrives to their town with his white cat, Brendan is recruited to go on an adventure outside of the town’s giant wall and into the woods forbidden to him by his strict uncle. Once in the forest, his life is in danger, but he makes friends with a forest spirit named Aisling who aids him in his quest but warns him to not meddle with the dark deity of the woods. And then a bunch of really awesome, scary, and cute things happen that elevate this film to a much higher standard than most children’s animations.

Like I said, THE SECRET OF KELLS really seems to be an under-appreciated movie, at least from my own personal experiences. Though, after a very short amount of research I discovered that it was actually nominated for an Oscar in 2010. Which just proves my point that it’s a fantastic film that I bet you’ve never seen. Director Tomm Moore recently directed the acclaimed SONG OF THE SEA as well, which is not on Netflix, but shows that the man can make some heartwarming and profound cartoons. ‘Kells’ tells an incredibly interesting story set in an enchanting world that forces the audience to engage and be swept up in the fantasy. You can watch it with your children or you can watch it alone on a Wednesday night (like me), either way you’re bound to enjoy this little tale.

DISNEY SHORT FILMS COLLECTION – various directors (2015)

asdNow, I know I usually recommend a TV show along with a feature, but to be completely honest, I’m running out of shows to watch. If you’d be so kind, please comment below with some shows you think I should watch and maybe I’ll recommend them back to you in a future episode! But as I attempt to catch up, here’s something a little different.

Much like Pixar, Walt Disney Animation Studios frequently joins short films to the beginning of their feature presentations. And while they’re not always as memorable as the Pixar shorts, they sometimes create classic gems that will certainly withstand the test of time. In this collection of such shorts, Disney has archived some of their very best; Oscar contenders PAPERMAN and FEAST, the groundbreaking GET A HORSE, princess shorts FROZEN FEVER and TANGLED EVER AFTER, and a bunch of other really great films.

This is another great thing to put on for kids that will be equally as entertaining for adults. In fact, some of the shorts such as Paperman and JOHN HENRY seem more aimed to adults than children! Regardless, you can easily find entertainment in the entire hour and a half of 12 shorts with some insightful intros to go along with them.