Snarcasm: Only Smart People Realize ‘Zootopia’ is a Bad Movie

zootopia bad

Snark + Sarcasm = what you’re about to read.

I think it’s important for people to remember that Rotten Tomatoes is just one of many useful metrics for evaluating a film you want to see. When we take it too seriously, we end up arguing over arbitrary numbers and percentages, rather than the details within a movie that actually matter.

Then someone writes a terrible review for Zootopia for the sole purpose of getting some attention.

“But Jon,” you say softly, “this reviewer in question might hate Zootopia for good reasons. What’s wrong with an opinion?”

“Nothing,” I respond to you with comforting glee. In fact, there are some great pieces out there already showcasing reasonable criticisms for Zootopia that other critics (even me) have glossed over. That said, there’s one other “bad” review for this movie that makes some decent points, though it’s written by a film critic who gave Annie (2014) 3.5 stars out of 4. So, yeah, I’d take that review with a speck of a grain of salt.

The review we’re going to Snarcasm today goes beyond some of the worst reviews I’ve ever attempted to share with you all. Everything, down to even the headline, is layered in nonsense, and we’re talking Gods of Egypt-level nonsense.

And it’s probably not a coincidence that this review came several days after all of the positive write-ups for Zootopia. But that’s none of my business.

Writing for The Globe and Mail, film critic Kate Taylor writes:

Zootopia: Fun for kids, but adults may think twice about movie’s message

That’s right! Instead of being blindly accepted without a second thought, adults are actually questioning important subject matter after watching a childrens’ film! The horror!

In Disney’s new animated feature Zootopia all the animals wear clothes and walk on their hind legs.

There’s nothing to complain about here, but I do want to point out how much I miss that comma after “Zootopia.”

zootopia bad

That makes the gazelle a particularly tall and lanky creature. A minor character, she’s a pop singer voiced by Shakira;

You’re going to kick things off with a barely tertiary character? Um, OK. That seems odd, but I guess it’s just a sentence. She’s probably about to move on to what the film’s actually about—

she sports gracefully tapering antlers with a tousled blond mane nesting fetchingly between them; she wears a miniskirt and a spangly red crop top.

Uh.

OK.

Are we done throwing adjectives at an unimportant character? It’s not like we can actually make a deranged conclusion about the film based on “tapering antlers.”

Yes, the elegant gazelle has been sexualized.

Wow. That’s…wow.

So Kate Taylor has a weird problem with animals looking like humans. Good thing she was chosen to review this movie.

Anthropomorphization is tricky territory although, God knows, Disney has lots of anodyne experience going all the way back to that cheery little mouse who first appeared in Steamboat Willie in 1928.

Kate, what are you even talking about right now? Anthropomorphization stopped being “tricky territory” at least 50 years ago. How is this your version of a hot button issue in a film about racism?!

Still, Zootopia takes the cultural practice of posing animals as human characters to queasy new heights.

So Kate is apparently uncomfortable seeing animals act like humans. I’m guessing she doesn’t have an Instagram account. Or neighbors. Or a sidewalk. Or Animal Planet. Or YouTube.

Perhaps I’m being ignorant, but it’s just bizarre to me that anyone would feel “queasy” watching something so established in our culture of entertainment. Sure, it may not be your favorite trope, but why on earth does such sanitized fiction make you uncomfortable at all?

Apparently, in the countryside, animals live in their original habitats surrounded by their own species and familiar neighbours:

That’s not “apparent.” It’s just what is.

Judy, a character cloyingly drawn with Kewpie doll eyes by the animators but firmly voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin, aspires to be a police officer and moves to Zootopia, where she is hired onto a force staffed by elephants, wolves and bears under a “mammal inclusion initiative.” In other words, she’s a girl in a man’s world.

OK, gender dynamics are somewhat parallel to what’s going on in Zootopia, but it’s strange that Kate brings this issue up instead of the obvious elephant in the room (who was a girl).

zootopia bad

Judy is directly held back because she’s a bunny, not because she’s a woman. While it’s fair to bring up how gender discrimination is similar to what we see in Zootopia, it’s certainly not the intended focus.

The chief (a water buffalo impressively created by Idris Elba) promptly assigns her to parking duty, but she soon breaks out and teams up with a wily fox (an irrepressible performance from Jason Bateman)

Idris Elba voiced the character. He didn’t “create” it. And if you’re just saying he brought the character to life, then you should just say that. Also, I don’t think you understand what irrepressible means, because Jason Bateman’s performance here is anything but.

I don’t imagine environmentalists would approve of a movie that suggests wild animals are at their best when tamed,

This is nonsense. The animals aren’t being tamed. They tame themselves in the same way humans do in order to cultivate society. How moronic do you think environmentalists are that they wouldn’t get the difference?

The premise of Zootopia is that these creatures have evolved past the point where they need to kill each other for survival, which is a great metaphor for how human civilization has been developed. Of course animals are at their best when they’re not at each other’s throats!

but it’s the social anxieties behind Zootopia’s message of animal harmony that make me uneasy.

Good! The best movies challenge and convict us. Do you only care for movies that cater directly to your sentimentalities?

But as Zootopia busily tells the kids not to stereotype different groups and to love everybody, it creates a city in which some creatures fear that others are inherently savage.

Is this really happening? Kate, that’s the entire point of the movie. Zootopia is teaching these lessons within the context of a city where racism exists. If the city itself was perfect and free of conflict, then the message would ring completely hollow.

That’s a pretty close match for both America’s historic racism and its new Islamophobia.

Yeah, Kate. Again, that was kind of the point, but you’re phrasing it as if this is somehow a flaw, instead of just an obvious fact.

And, leaving aside amusing jokes about the wolves trying desperately to contain a group howl or sloths working as bureaucrats, animal behaviour is a troubling metaphor for cultural diversity.

So far, everything you’ve said to build up to this point runs contrary to the idea that animal behavior is a troubling metaphor for anything. You’ve specifically said not even a sentence ago that it matches American society closely. Does that mean the problem is that it’s too good of a metaphor? Because if so, your vague issue with this film doesn’t have much to do with the actual film.

Especially that weird thing about the gazelles. Are you just never going to get to that?

After all, preying on smaller or slower creatures is how many real animals eat; wolves are potentially savage and mice can’t really live happily with them.

And this is the part where everyone reading this review realizes that the critic has absolutely no interest in actually reviewing the movie. The crux of Taylor’s “uneasiness” boils down to minutiae: a barely explored aspect of the world building that has absolutely nothing to do with the actual story.

In fact, it makes more sense than not that Kate Taylor fell asleep in the first ten seconds and then woke up once in the middle and nodded off again. Because the entire first scene explains how animals evolved to the point where they didn’t need to make distinctions between prey and predator. They could just find alternate means of living in order to have harmony.

zootopia bad

But because Kate can’t use her imagination and think of what these creatures could do otherwise, there’s something wrong with the film. Let me try to imagine how Kate could have such a bizarre understanding of this movie….Nope, nothing.

And how much animal harmony does the sprawling Zootopia team of multiple directors and writers really envisage?

Really? You couldn’t just say “envision?”

Oh, and to answer your question, a lot. Like that’s the entire point of that 5 minute opening sequence where we watch how all of these animals live in disparate sectors of the city, along with pretty much everything else from that point forward.

In fact, it’s clear to everyone but those of you who were sleeping that the directors and writers spent countless hours making this world come to life in a way that represents a united city of animals that was made by animals.

It was only when the sexy gazelle appeared in a final image of the animal kingdom united in song that I noted the very few couples in the film – Judy’s bunny parents and an otter whose husband has gone missing – and began to wonder about the deepening friendship between Judy the female bunny and Nick the male fox. But let’s not go there.

Yeah, what a terrible movie! Instead of needlessly focusing on a forced romance, it gave us a story  that was good enough to stand on its own with characters who had enough believable chemistry to sidestep a boring love dynamic!

What a nightmare!

To be fair, I’m not entirely sure that’s what Kate is getting at, but at this point, I have no idea what she’s even rambling about.

Highly familiar with the pluralist message that Zootopia delivers, the children for whom the film is largely intended are unlikely to be troubled by anything they see here.

Those pedestrian children are so pedestrian, you see.

Thinking parents, however, may think twice.

In other words, “Only smart people like me understand how “bad” this movie is. And if you don’t agree, you’re a CHILD!”

Guys, this has to be the worst professional film review I’ve read since…perhaps ever. There’s no real analysis here, just a few lopsided assertions that don’t even strengthen her premise. She ignores the visuals, the characters, the writing, and pretty much anything about this movie that would inform her readers whether or not it’s worth their time.

zootopia bad

She talks more about the gazelle with two lines of dialogue than the main characters. And when she does bring up the main characters, she complains (I guess?) that they aren’t in a relationship.

Instead of actually reviewing Zootopia, she digs on one bizarre hangup she has that doesn’t even slight the movie, mostly because she barely explains why anything she mentions is a real flaw. She just cites another example that reads more like an adjective-filled soundbite and then moves on.

This is not a review. It’s barely even a rant. It’s just a lazy, incoherent opinion with a grade at the bottom.


Hey! If you’ve come across a silly article that deserves the Snarcasm treatment, send it my way via Twitter or the comments below!

I’m Jon and thanks for reading this. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. Or just say hey on Twitter! @JonNegroni

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34 thoughts

  1. Okay, you accuse her of being condescending and giving a bad review… Then you give a bad review of her review and act like a hypocrite. Way to put out empty content and writing. Honestly, as I was reading I had to resist the urge to just read the parts of her review and skip your off key commentary…
    Also, there were clear parts where she was merely summarizing the plot and you accused her of acting like she was discovering these things. Your hideous bias really showed through here. You were just looking for anything to nitpick over, because you were ready to attack an honest opinion and assert that she only wrote it for attention. Clearly you only wrote this for attention you fucking hypocrite, and where do you get off presuming you know hers? You really showed your ignorance here.
    You represent everything wrong with reviewers and why they are not respected. Do try and close your mouth in the future to prevent the dribble from spilling from it…

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    1. Oh boy, where to even begin.

      So I gave a bad review of a good review, and you’re good for pointing it out. Also, you’re being condescending to me for being condescending to someone who was condescending to everyone else. Is that about the size of it?

      First, it’s important to know the entire purpose behind Snarcasm. It’s not directly for “attention” beyond my desire to call out bad reviews and other write-ups from writers and reviewers who should know better. Kate is one of those reviewers which is why I wrote this piece. I don’t just assert she wrote it for attention and move on, I actually explain why I believe she’s being negative for the sake of it.

      She published a late contrarian review of this movie that eschews it for irrelevant reasons dressed up in random, unsubstantiated complaints about metaphors being too faithful, somehow. There’s not one thing in this review that actually addresses meaningful details related to the plot and its characters aside from projected gripes about animation tropes she constantly refers back to.

      It’s an objectively bad review, not because it’s critical, but because it is apparently written with its own “hideous bias” against the genre, not valid issues with the movie, proving the reviewer has little more to say than a bunch of out-of-touch insights, if you want to call them that. To say I represent something wrong with reviewers tells me plainly that you’re just angry for the sake of being angry, not because you’ve sat down and identified any real problems with what I had to say about this review. By all means, point out to me what I specifically wrote that is incorrect or unfair, and we can have a conversation. Just keep the self-righteous F-bombs to yourself, if you may.

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