Zootopia (2016) – Disney’s Colorful Gang of Lovable Characters
Spying a review of an animated motion picture here is unusual to say the least. However I recently watched the much raved about Disney Studios film, Zootopia and as I couldn’t resist an opportunity to chat it up, today’s review happened.
Being anything you want is Judy Hopp’s motto. She believes no matter your heritage with a little moxy and determination, you can become anything. This is why, despite her family being gardeners (specifically carrot farmers), Judy (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin) let’s nothing deter her from the police academy. She wants to help people, and being a cop is the way she chooses to do this. Graduating at the top of her class, Judy becomes the first rabbit to wear a badge, and with an idealistic attitude, she leaves for the great unknown: Zootopia.
The large metropolitan world of Zootopia isn’t kind to Judy. Her excitement quickly deflates when she’s belittled by her boss who assigns her to parking duty. Eventually two things happen that change Judy’s life. First she meets Nick (voiced by Jason Bateman), a fox who is all about the “hustle” and second, she stumbles onto a kidnapping case with grave ramifications.
No matter your personal feelings on Disney’s conglomerate, one thing they do well is the business of movie magic. This recent gem is no different. Zootopia is the kind of film that’s a delight from opening credits to closing titles. Its target age may be the younger crowd although I was anything except bored during its colorful 90+ minutes. I was giggling over the adorableness and (appropriate) dramatics before ten minutes were gone. This said, there are some “issues” I would argue with it about.
Unfortunately, I felt like the writer’s pushed their PC agenda overmuch. Politics were subtly woven into the script which for me, lessened what otherwise might be been the perfect animated film. (To say nothing of the fact I felt they didn't have a place in this film.) As a viewer, I understand this was the story’s message however it came across as overstated and therefor lacked being endearing. Let me be clear, I don’t necessarily disagree with the smaller scope of this film’s message. What I do disagree with is the way in which they try to impress it upon society. Explaining it more thoroughly might not be something I have the words for and would likely not come across as I’d like it too, so I’ll leave it at that.
Beyond these complaints, minor though they are in comparison to the larger picture, Zootopia is 100% pure sunshine. I loved its characters, its whodunit mystery and the sleuthing that results from this as well as the entire look of the film (one of my favorite scenes involves Judy riding the subway into Zootopia). It goes from sweet and innocent child-like to intelligent storytelling that somehow remains charming in its innocent bubble of joy. The vocal talents are wonderful and also include Bonnie Hunt, Jenny Slate, Idris Elba, and cameos from Kristen Bell and Josh Dallas (Ginnifer's husband). Plus its theme song (recorded by Shakira) is a toe-tapping delight that’s a story onto itself.
The comedy of the story is brilliant. I liked the tongue-in-cheek fragments, the nuances of which were added for the delight of adults (though the humor isn’t tawdry). I loved Judy’s optimism and ensconced beliefs to do whatever it takes to right a wrong. The strong (and playful) friendship between its lead characters is also endearing. At the end of the day if animated films are your jam, watching this darling film is something you shouldn’t miss out on experiencing. Zootopia is quite surprisingly a spot of magic in its own way. Or in other words, hashtag cuteness overload!
Content: There’s a few instances of innuendo in the script including an instance when Judy is embarrassed to discover her investigation led her to a nude society. (The scene depicts animals of varying size and species “in the nude.”) The film earned a PG rating.