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Zootopia (2016)
Movie Reviews

Zootopia (2016)

Strong messages about racism and prejudice make this one of the better recent Disney animated features.

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Anyone who knows me and/or keeps up with my reviews already knows I’m a sucker for a lot of things, whether it’s emotional dramas, action-packed adventures, a good comedy, and especially anthropomorphic animals (I think my Popzara avatar and name gave that away). So when I learned all of these would be coming together in Disney’s 55th animated movie Zootopia, to say I was excited to see it was a huge understatement.

I’m pleased to say my expectations were met and exceeded, as it is without a doubt the best movie I’ve seen in 2016 so far as it prowls its way into the best animated picture list as well as viewers’ hearts.

The story starts off simple enough with the young Judy Hopps (voiced perfectly by Ginnifer Goodwin), a rabbit from the country-like town of Bunnyburrow who dreams of making the world a better place by becoming a police officer in the huge city of Zootopia. After going through rigorous tests and training, she becomes the first bunny officer on the police force, much to the dismay of her teammates as only bigger, stronger animals usually make the cut. Her chief named Bogo (voiced by the always great Idris Elba) assigns her to traffic duty to keep her out of the way, but Judy takes down a petty crook instead of doing her assigned job, leading to Bogo nearly firing her before Mrs. Otterton (voiced by Octavia Spencer) asks the police to help find her missing husband. Judy takes the case and Bogo gives her two days to find him or she’s forced to resign.

While looking for clues, she comes across a crafty con-artist fox named Nick Wilde (voiced spot-on by Jason Bateman) who has friends in high and low places that can help them solve the case. What comes next will be the biggest adventure of their lives as they learn that more animals are missing and are somehow reverting back to being savage, which sparks fear in the entire city that the two of them will have to overcome if they want to save it and stop whoever or whatever is causing it.

I was taking some serious liberties with that summary, as to say more would be giving away a great deal of what makes this movie so exciting and special. Directors Byron Howard and Rich Moore have done a fantastic job making a film that combines the fun of a traditional Disney movie, but adding in some serious topics such as fearing others and the prejudice that comes with it. Being a huge fan of the Blacksad graphic novels (make a movie or series about it already, pretty please!), I couldn’t help but wonder if the directors and writers were shooting for a family friendly take on that universe. I also enjoyed the witty writing of the movie and how it pokes fun at typical Disney features, such as Chief Bogo yelling at Judy and saying something to the effect of “This isn’t some happy, believe-in-yourself movie. So let it go!”, an obvious jab at Frozen.

I loved all the characters here as well, mainly with Nick and Judy having perfect chemistry as they take jabs at each other while also learning from their shortcomings and mistakes. Then there’s other fun cast members like J.K. Simmons voicing the mayor who’s a lion, the infamous Tommy Chong voicing a hippy yak, and even music star Shakira voicing a pop star gazelle who represents the heart of the city and tries to bring all animal races together. Needless to say Michael Giacchino does another perfect job scoring the movie as the music fits each scene wonderfully, and thanks to Shakira for getting her song, “Try Everything”, stuck in my head.

I could go on and on about how awesome Disney’s Zootopia is, and how it has some strong messages about racism and prejudice, but I loved it as a good time overall and it’s better for you to experience all the joy, pain, and fun for yourself. Rarely has a movie, animated or otherwise, hit all of the right marks with its spot on cast, characters, story, and music. Do yourself, your family and friends a favor and make a date to see this movie, as there’s loads of furry fun here your inner animal will go wild for.

About the Author: Chris Mitchell