Bonnie Hunt and Don Lake, friends and writing partners going back 30 years, never expected to reunite for “Zootopia+.”
“Zootopia,” the blockbuster, Oscar-winning, billion-dollar animated film, was six years ago. Now Disney+ is streaming six animated shorts like “Zootopia+,” in which Hunt and Lake reprise their vocal work as Bonnie and Stu Hopps, the happily married European rabbits of Bunnyburrow.
The Hopps jumps into an action parody as the first short, just 7 minutes long, followed by a musical starring Duke Weaselton. There’s also a “Real Housewives” spoof with Mrs. Mrs., Mr. Big in a film noir send-up and another about a dance competition. It is also an original song.
Co-director Trent Correy revealed how it happened. “Disney opened a pitch program,” he explained at a virtual press conference. “Anyone can pitch an idea – and it’s a blind submission. I was an animator for “Zootopia,” and I thought, What a rich world to go back to and revisit that world.
“The film is great, but with only snippets of these secondary characters. I was so happy then [his pitch] made the final rounds and became a reality.”
“Credit Trent when the series was approved for having the six shorts interwoven with the movie. It was Choose Your Own Adventure,” co-director Josie Trinidad said. “He had 10 ideas for different shorts and we narrowed it down to six.”
Trinidad discovered that short films are not easy: “The shorts were more difficult than working on a full-length film. They are small and fun to make, but limited.”
“Over the past six years, Zootopia has been embraced by everyone,” Hunt said. “Working with a creative team has a ripple effect of connecting with family. I’m excited to be a part of this ripple.”
The fun of her “Zootopia+” shorts is watching the Bunny parents try to save their youngest bunny from disaster, making Bonnie Hopp an unlikely action hero.
“You are lucky enough to work with talent with a safety net of good intentions and quality of character. I don’t have any kids,” Hunt said, “but I have 15 nieces and nephews and I’ve seen my sisters as action heroes, moving faster than they’ve ever moved. [to rescue their own kids]. It’s fun to play something kind and intelligent with humor.”
“Obviously it’s wonderful to work with Bonnie again,” Lake said. “We’ve known each other so long that we could finish each other’s sentences. We don’t have to say anything, we’re just having fun. And we get the freedom to have fun. It’s a privilege – and it’s not work, Bonnie and I just play.”
“Zootopia+” streams on Disney+ on November 9.