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Review: ‘Zootopia+’ Disney+ Animated Shorts

“Zootopia+” heads back to the fast-paced mammal metropolis of Zootopia in a short-form series that dives deeper into the lives of some of the Oscar®-winning feature film’s most popular characters, including Fru Fru, Clawhauser, Flash and more.  All six shorts are streaming now on Disney+.

Each short is 7-9 minutes long and are basically back plots or substories of events that happened during 2016’s Zootopia that are cleverly woven back into the film.  Eagle-eyed fans will be able to depict which scenes are from the original movie and there are also plenty of easter eggs and surprise cameos to spot along the way which adds to the fun.

Returning voice talents from the original film include Idris Elba and Nate Torrence as Chief Bogo and Clawhauser, Maurice LeMarche as the voice of Mr. Big, and Alan Tudyk as Duke Weaselton, Bonnie Hunt and Don Lake once again voice Judy Hopp’s parents, Bonnie and Stu and Flash the sloth is voiced by Raymond Persi, with the multitalented Kristen Bell (voice of Anna in “Frozen”) voicing Flash’s girlfriend, Priscilla.

Each episode of “Zootopia+” has its own distinct genre, look and attitude. There’s action-adventure (“Hopp on Board”), rom-com (“Dinner Rush”), reality show parody (“The Real Rodents of Little Rodentia”) a film noir homage (“The Godfather of the Bride”), reality talent competition (“So You Think You Can Prance”) and a musical (“Duke: The Musical”).

All 6 “ZOOTOPIA+” Episodes and Descriptions:

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“HOPP ON BOARD” – Embracing all the dynamic camera work, intense music and high-speed tropes of the best action films, this exciting episode takes viewers on a fast-paced adventure from Bunnyburrow to the heart of Zootopia as Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) boards a train to begin her new life in the big city. As her parents, Bonnie and Stu (Bonnie Hunt and Don Lake), tearfully watch the train pull out of the station, they realize that their youngest daughter, Molly, is also on board the train. Once this discovery has been made, Bonnie and Stu leave the comforts and security of their home and hightail it in hot pursuit of the speeding train and the stowaway Molly. It’s a daring and wild ride as the duo pull out all the stops, and engage in some fast and furious stunt driving, to keep up with the
train and attempt to rescue their young daughter.

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“THE REAL RODENTS OF LITTLE RODENTIA” – “Zootopia+” offers its own distinct version of a reality show with this hilarious episode focusing on the upcoming wedding of Fru Fru (voiced by Leah Latham), daughter of Tundratown crime boss/head shrew, Mr. Big (Maurice LaMarche). As she goes about planning the wedding with her friends, Christine (Porsha Williams), Charisma (Crystal Kung Minkoff), and Brianca (Katie Lowes), the sudden arrival of her childhood friend, Tru Tru (Michelle Buteau), upends the meeting, and sets into motion a feud, a life-saving incident, and a moment of reflection. All’s well that ends well, as Fru Fru remembers the essence of friendship, picks her “shrew of honor,” and moves forward with the wedding of her dreams.

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“DUKE: THE MUSICAL” – Small-time weasel crook Duke Weaselton (Alan Tudyk) aims for the “big time” in this outrageous and fanciful musical episode that finds the career criminal rethinking his life and picturing himself as a good guy. He croons about setting things right, as he imagines choosing a variety of alternate paths
and careers, including a used car salesman, a lawyer, a surgeon, an author, and even a financial genius (the “Weasel of Wall Street”). As an oil tycoon, he shoots for the moon, but comes crashing back to earth where he is confronted with his past proclivities.

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“THE GODFATHER OF THE BRIDE” – Mr. Big takes center stage in this homage to the crime family genre. As he prepares for his daughter’s wedding, he flashes back to the old country and his hard-scrabble, humble origins as an immigrant shrew. Life was hard for a small mammal in a big world, but with the acquisition of a
bicycle, an attitude of never feeling small, and a little help from some unlikely friends, Mr. Big builds a family and finds his place in the world. Imari Williams is heard as the voice of Rhino Boss.

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“SO YOU THINK YOU CAN PRANCE” – When it comes to mega pop-star singing sensation, Gazelle (Allison Trujillo-Strong), there is no bigger fan in all of Zootopia than Benjamin Clawhauser (Nate Torrence), the Police Department’s most charming cheetah. When Clawhauser hears about a chance to audition for the talent
competition show, “So You Think You Can Prance,” with the winner getting a chance to be Gazelle’s back-up dancer, it becomes his latest obsession. His efforts to enlist Chief Bogo (Idris Elba) to be his dancing partner is met with resistance. Just when it seems that his dreams are about to be crushed, Clawhauser discovers that a Chief never leaves his back-up behind. This entertaining and music-filled episode proves that dreams can come true.

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“DINNER RUSH” – It’s 5:30 at a local Zootopia bistro, and Sam (Charlotte Nicdao), the Otter waiter, is looking to make a timely and hasty exit so that she can catch the Gazelle concert later that evening. All systems are go, and Sam is wrapping her last table, when Flash the Sloth (Raymond S. Persi) and his soon-to-be fiancée Priscilla (Kristen Bell) stroll in for dinner. The couple is not in any hurry, and Flash has a hidden agenda, as Sam tries to rush them along but sets off a series of disasters in the process. Will Sam make it to the concert on time? If you only see one Sloth rom-com this year, this is the one to catch.

The two standout shorts are “Duke: The Musical” and “Dinner Rush.”  “Duke: The Musical” could easily pass as a Broadway showstopper.  The episode features music by Oscar®- winning composer Michael Giacchino who previously worked on ZootopiaUpLostSpider-Man: No Way HomeThe BatmanJurassic WorldStar TrekThe Incredibles, and Ratatouille and also recently directed Marvel’s Special Presentation Werewolf By Night.  He also co-wrote the original song “Big Time” with lyrics by Elyssa Samsel & Kate Anderson (Olaf’s Frozen AdventureCentral Park) for the episode, which centers on small-time weasel crook Duke Weaselton (voiced by Alan Tudyk) as he rethinks his life and pictures himself as a good guy.

“Dinner Rush” sees the return of everyone’s favorite sloth Flash and perfectly delivers the angst and frustration we feel when we’re in a hurry to get to somewhere and time is not on our side.  Kristen Bell also portrays the voice of Flash’s girlfriend, Priscilla in the short.

One disappointment is beloved character Nick Wilde (voiced by Jason Bateman) is noticeably missing from the new series.  The star from the original film is definitely missed however, the quality of the shorts still delivers a hit show even with the omission.

Each episode is charming, funny, whimsical, delightful and a joy to watch.  Zootopia fans will no doubt love seeing their favorite characters once again.  All six episodes are easy to digest in one sitting or can be watched one at a time when you have a few minutes to spare.  The timing of the release is perfect as families get together for the holidays as all ages can appreciate the show.

A number of the animators who worked on the 2016 feature Zootopia, contributed in various roles and capacities to this new series. Nathan Engelhardt served
as head of animation with animation supervisors Pedro Daniel Garcia Perez, Bert Klein, and Jacqueline Koehler guiding the talented team of animators.

Jim Finn was the production designer for the series, and Gregory Smith lent his expertise as visual effects supervisor.  Le Joyce Tong was head of effects animation and worked with the effects team on such spectacular imagery as the dancing money in the “Duke: The Musical” episode, and the raining doughnuts in “So You Think You Can Prance.”

The series is directed by Josie Trinidad (Co-Head of Story, “Zootopia”; Head of Story, “Ralph Breaks the Internet”) and Trent Correy (Director, “Once Upon a Snowman” and “Drop”), and produced by Nathan Curtis.

The music for “Zootopia+” was composed by Curtis Green (Dug Days) and Michael Giacchino.

You can watch a trailer for the series below:

“Zootopia+” is available to stream now on Disney+.

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