Zootopia+ Review: A Fun If Redundant Expansion Of The Oscar-Winning Film [Annecy 2022]

For the first time in its almost 100-year-old history, Walt Disney Animation Studios is entering the realm of television. Gone are the days when a TV-focused studio would produce lesser versions of the movie characters, where every popular Disney movie got a spin-off show, now it is the main studio doing the work in feature-like quality. And what exactly is Disney Animation's TV not doing so with Mickey Mouse shorts or brand new stories, mind you, but with shows based on their recognizable IP. So it makes perfect sense that the first two TV shows from the studio are — checks notes — spin-offs of "Big Hero 6" and "Zootopia."

You remember "Zootopia," right? The far inferior version of "Beastars" that's about a cop rabbit partnering up with a fox detective, and had some problematic allegories about race? Well, it's back! And now it's lampooning every kid's favorite movies and genres, from reality shows to, in the first episode, "The Godfather Part II."

Walt Disney Animation Studios presented the first episode of "Zootopia+" at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival, and it is not as bad as it could have easily been, but it is also a bit redundant if you've seen the film.

The Godfather of the Bride

"Zootopia+" will consist of six 11-minute-long episodes, each following a completely different side of the world of Zootopia, where animals of all kinds coexist in very human-like worlds, only suited for animals (so the city is divided between different climates to accommodate for all species). Each episode will connect to the movie in some way, showing what happened when the camera cut away to a new scene, while also exploring different genres. The first episode, "The Godfather of the Bride," takes us back to Fru Fru's wedding, and tells the origin story of her father, Mr. Big. 

Of course, if you're going to tell the origin story of a very Italian mob boss while paying homage to different movie genres, what other way to tell the story than through the lens of a "The Godfather Part II" parody. The episode takes us back to when Mr. Big was but a young boy living in "The Old Country in the year 19??" as Mr. Big narrates it. Only this is Zootopia and they are still shrews so when he talks about crossing the pond on a ship, it's just a car tire with some planks on top navigating a puddle in the middle of the street. The episode follows him as he discovers the difficulties small mammals face in the big city, how he helped his mother open a bakery (the only product we see? Cannoli, of course), and even strike a friendship with the poor polar bears who are just melting away with no AC, before turning them into his enforcers. 

It looks good, but is it needed?

Visually, "Zootopia+" is one of the most impressive shows Disney has done in a long while, with realistic CG backgrounds and fluid animation that looks just like any of their multi-million-dollar feature films. And even in a very short format, the show feels just like an extension of the movie too, with the same humor, and use of anthropomorphic animals to tell human stories in a very over-the-top way.

But there is also nothing on "The Godfather of the Bride" that wasn't already in the "Zootopia" movie. With only 11 minutes to tell a story, plus the parodying of a very famous story from one of the best movies ever made, the episode has very little to say beyond "wow, immigrants have it bad here." The movie already mined "The Godfather" through the Mr. Big character for all it was worth, so expanding to tell a prequel/sequel feels redundant and like the lowest-hanging fruit possible.

Still, if you're a fan of "Zootopia" and want to revisit these characters, or want your furry fix while Netflix finally releases "Beastars" season 3 (its last, sadly), "Zootopia+" is not a bad start for Walt Disney Animation's TV output, but not its most imaginative or impressive, either.

"Zootopia+" releases November 9, 2022 on Disney+.