Dan's Review: "Zootopia" furry fun with a good message
Zootopia - © 2016 - Walt Disney Studios
Rated PG for some thematic elements, rude humor and action.
Starring (voices of) Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, Jenny Slate, Nate Torrence, Bonnie Hunt, Don Lake, Tommy Chong, J.K. Simmons, Octavia Spencer, Alan Tudyk, Shakira.
Written by Jared Bush, Phil Johnston, Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Jennifer Lee, Joshie Trinidad, Jim Reardon.
Directed by Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Jared Bush.
Disney Animation has been on a streak of late. After snatching up two animated feature Oscars two years in a row (Frozen and Big Hero 6), their next attempt had a lot to live up to (we’re not counting Pixar films, in this list, either). Zootopia is the latest Disney (computer) animated film to hit theaters this weekend, and it seems like the streak might keep going.
Zootopia is the story of a young female country rabbit named Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) whose only ambition in life is to become a police officer. The odds are stacked against her, since law enforcement careers seem to be dominated by bigger, stronger mammals (rhinos, elephants, tigers, lions, bears and other large critters). After applying herself and graduating top of her class at the police academy, Judy is hired on as the first bunny officer in the Zootopia Police Department, much to the disliking of her superior officer Chief Bogo (Idris Elba), who assigns her to parking enforcement duty. Meanwhile, several animals (all predators) go missing without any clues. One day, Judy discovers a clue that leads her to a conman (fox) named Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman), who reluctantly agrees to help her find out what’s behind all the disappearances. They soon discover that the predators are being held in a secret location by Zootopia Mayor Lionheart (J.K. Simmons) because they have all gone feral. Despite the major discovery, Judy does not know what caused the predators to go crazy, and she speculates that their killer instincts have something to do with their biology. Judy’s contemplation causes a rash of fear to come over the entire city, creating a rift between predator animals and prey. It also causes a rift between Judy and Nick, who had been growing fond of each other during the investigation. The fox and the bunny must overcome their fears and differences to solve the crime and bring peace to the city once more.
Zootopia is a very good film with a very good voice cast and pleasant message about transcending fears and finding peace. This simple message of tolerance and seeing beyond one’s culture or “biology” to make conscious choices is a pleasant surprise. What’s more is that Zootopia doesn’t come across as preachy, delivering this message with a simple and well-themed illustration.
The quality of animation in Zootopia is equally brilliant, especially considering that almost all of the characters are laden with fur. The script is cheerful and witty, with several hysterical gags (the sloths working at the DMV are as funny as they are frustrating).
So, if you want a good film for the whole family and you want to escape to a world where you can learn a few good lessons about getting along in this crazy world made up of people from all walks of life, take the kids to see Zootopia. You don’t need to worry about house-training, either.