Disney’s having a rough week. Yesterday brought reports that Tomorrowland could cost the studio upwards of $140 million, plus reports that Walt Disney’s ghost was wandering the fake streets of Epcot, shaking his fist at people and yelling about the rampant destruction of his ideal future. Perhaps that’s why today, Disney is trying to focus attention on what it’s done best lately: animation. The Mouse House has been killing the game in recent years, what with Frozen, Big Hero 6, Wreck-It Ralph, and Tangled; today, it’s dropped the first teaser-trailer for Zootopia, its latest effort.
Co-directed by Tangled’s Byron Howard, Wreck-It Ralph’s Rich Moore, and screenwriter Jared Bush, Zootopia stars Jason Bateman as the voice of Nick Wilde, “a fast-talking fox living in a city peopled by talking animals, of all things!” (thanks, Charles) and Ginnifer Goodwin as “idealistic rookie rabbit cop” Judy Hopps. The two start off as mortal enemies, because cops hate fast-talkers, but soon have to team up to crack a big case. According to a preview yesterday in USA Today, the film will “blend the anthropomorphism of classic cartoons such as Robin Hood with the buddy-comedy vibe of 48 Hrs.” Probably with fewer guns.
In the teaser—which feels too cute and self-aware by half and weirdly smarmy, but it’s okay Disney, we’re going to give you the benefit of the doubt on this one, we know you’re not in a good place right now—Bateman plants his tongue into his cheek forever and explains to us humanoid viewers exactly what “Zootopia” means. Pretending the concept of talking animals is very difficult to grasp stops being funny after about 31 seconds, in case you were wondering.
The trail of the tape
Director: Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Jared Bush
Screenwriter: Jared Bush
Cast: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman
Release date: March 4, 2016
The entire trailer in one line of dialogue: “That is an animal.”
The entire trailer in one screengrab:
The actual animation going on in this teaser—particularly that pig in the preppy yellow ensemble—looks clever and fun. The filmmakers spent months doing animal behavioral research, and that attention to detail is apparent; according to USA Today, “all the furry animals reflect their real-life counterparts,” down to the proper rate of bunny nose-twitching. But I’m hoping Zootopia’s tone is less, um, annoying than this teaser would suggest. Disney, let’s just take it down a notch or two. We’ll let this one slide for now, because we care about you.