It’s understandable if you’re unaware that “Zootopia”—the latest film from Disney animation—was released weeks ago. Disney’s animated features typically come out in November, and by this time of year, people are starting to look ahead to the summer blockbuster season.
However, “Zooptopia” is a hidden gem that should not be overlooked. “Zootopia” takes place in a world populated by anthropomorphized animals, which walk on two legs, wear clothes, and otherwise do everything that humans do in the year 2016. Immediately you might hear that premise and think that talking animal films are so three decades ago; on the contrary, “Zootopia” is about as modern as it gets. “Zootopia” features memorable characters, great, timely humor, exciting action and eye-popping animation.
Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin ) is a rabbit who dreams of being a police officer. She is assured that in the gleaming city of “Zootopia”, anything is possible. When she finally reaches her goal, however, she finds that she was only appointed to the force due to the animal equivalent of affirmative action, and that neither Chief Bogo (Idris Elba), nor her fellow officers really expect a prey animal to be anything more than a meter made. Her lucky break comes in the form of a major conspiracy that has her fellow officers stumped.
She also runs into a fox named Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman), a con artist who she cons into helping her on the case. What follows is a series of twists and turns reminiscent of the best buddy-cop and detective movies. Don’t be fooled by the title. “Zootopia” is a smartly written film with a story that can appeal to all audiences.
Speaking of audience appeal, the film is loaded with great humor and witty, timely satire. Sloths work at the DMV. There is a “naturalist” colony that rejects clothes as being against the natural order. Several animals are seen watching videos on Smart phones. There is even a great reference to The Godfather. Besides these great satirical moments, the film features plenty of humorous exchanges between Judy and Nick. Bateman and Goodwin play off each other perfectly, and each balances comedy well with great character drama.
While “Zootopia” works as a fun comedy for all ages, it especially delivers as a buddy-cop film and detective drama. Inspired by classic buddy-cop and detective films, the film’s mystery is well executed, giving you just enough clues to still keep you guessing until the reveal. Judy and Nick are great characters, and both are developed well. Judy’s struggle for validation is portrayed to great effect, and every obstacle she and Nick face is exciting to watch and beautifully animated. The entire film looks incredible.
It’s hard to think of any flaws that “Zootopia” has. It’s fun and exciting to watch, hilarious and clever when it wants to be, and features beautiful animation and great voice work. There’s something in “Zootopia” for everyone. It does feature a lot of the Disney truisms, and despite the well-done mystery, some people may find it a touch predictable. But that’s probably about it in terms of reasons not to check it out.
Disney animation has done it again. “Zootopia” is an easy recommendation for anyone who likes movies.