Zootopia+, the fun style exercise from Walt Disney Animation Studios on Disney+

A miniseries of shorts, Zootopia+, based on the beloved animated film from Walt Disney Animation Studios, has landed on Disney+, let’s have fun and go wild with these six short, dazzling stories.

One of the most intriguing achievements of Disney+ for the animation enthusiast it is having forcefully re-launched the form of short film made to the highest levels of technical and artistic quality, by the same studios that normally deal with feature films for the hall (or for the same platform). Sure, we had shorts paired with some movies at the cinema, or those included as extras on Blu-ray and the like, but the need for a large amount of content for the platform actually created a more methodical and organized outlet for cartoon under ten minutes: in the era of Golden Age of American animation, between the 1930s and 1940s, shorts were part of the normal cinematographic “programming”, and since then this type of seriality and/or experiment, having TV as its objective, has changed into the sitcom model, different in style and content.

THE Walt Disney Animation Studios already contribute freely to the series “Short circuit“, a forge of visual and narrative experimentation, with a role similar to that which the Silly Symphonies they had in the thirties. After the dress rehearsal of the very simple Olaf presents in 2021, however, the studio began expanding into short miniseries some of their most serializable feature films. A few months ago it was the turn of Baymax!which has the same format as this one Zootopia+: six shorts of less than ten minutes. Zootopia+ is directed by the couple made up of the animator Trent Correy and the story artist Josie Trinidadalready active on the original film.
However, the mindset of Zootopia+ is different from that of Baymax!, because the latter was a series that expanded the thematic of help and support, with an interconnected narrative of the six chapters. The Six Adventures in Zootopia, on the other hand, are independent but embedded in the chronology of the film’s events and aim, rather than a thematic expansion, at a play on audiovisual genreskeeping the humorous and satirical muscles of the setting taut.

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Each Zootopia+ mini-story corresponds to one specific genre. Bonnie and Stu, Judy’s parents, discover that the very little Molly had (literally) boarded her sister’s train, and set off in pursuit in a riot of surreal action evolutions. In the second and fifth episodes they make fun of each other television formats (including camera movements): in one the daughter of the rodent boss, Fru-Fru, is the protagonist of a reality TV about her marriagein the other the cheetah policeman Clawhauser cultivates the dream of participating in the Gazelle dancing reality show (and here echoes of the Illumination competition are felt with the single). In “Godfather of the Bride” Mr. Big recalls his beginnings as a pauper, in a parody of the coppolian styleincluding image aging. In the great farcical ending the beloved flash sloth with his beloved he drives an otter waitress who is in a hurry to go crazy in a restaurant. All between style exercise and fanserviceafter all, but with a furious rhythm and a stylistic control that is now very complete (and for years indistinguishable from Pixar’s).
The flagship, surprising for self-irony given the dark humor aspect with the annulment of hope, is however “Duke: The Musical“, where the scammer Duke Donnolesi for a moment he dreams of a life of success and not of gimmicks… in the form of a hyper-choreographed Broadway musical. Deviled.
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Zootopia+, the fun style exercise from Walt Disney Animation Studios on Disney+