Movie Name: Zootopia
Studio: Walt Disney Animation Studios
Release Date(s): February 11, 2016 (Denmark)/March 4, 2016 (US)
MPAA Rating: PG
Judy Hopps dreams of being a police officer in the greatest city in the world…Zootopia. When she finally achieves her dream, Judy discovers it is little more than a PR stunt and being a “real” officer might never happen. When Judy takes the initiative to investigate the disappearance of Emmitt Otterson, she must enlist the aid of the rabbit’s mortal enemy: a fox named Nick Wilde. Nick and Judy are about to discover that there is something worse happening in Zootopia…and it could be Judy’s chance to reach her dreams!
Directed by Byron Howard and Rich Moore, Zootopia is fifty-fifth film in Walt Disney’s Animated Classics series. It features the voice work of Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Jenny Slate, Idris Elba, Bonnie Hunt, Tommy Chong, Nate Torrence, J.K. Simmons, Octavia Spencer, Alan Tudyk, Shakira, and more. Following Big Hero 6 in 2014, the animated feature received critical acclaim and a strong box office returns. It won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.
Disney is almost always solid and now that they are once again “one” with Pixar, the two giants of animation seem to just be pumping out “classics” over and over again. While I kind of wish that Disney/Pixar would fail on occasion to make them rise to even high, Zootopia once again shows skill and depth that isn’t in earlier films.
The plot of Zootopia is probably above the heads of most of the younger viewers and if they gleam what is going on in Zootopia, it could mean a lot of explaining for parents. While the mystery is simple (who is making animals crazy), the underlying story is quite intense. You have a melting pot of a city filled with animals that don’t like living together. Instead of trust, the city begins falling apart due to the savage nature of animals.
The race relations aspect of the movie is also especially on point at the time of Zootopia’s release. The United States (and the world) is struggling with hate and fear, and Zootopia captures a lot of it…but it also has this weird “stereotypes can be right” message that kind of undermines the whole plot…and if the kids watching the movie take away the stereotypes instead of inclusion, it defeats the good the movie can do.
The visuals for the movie like always are strong. The character designs for the movie are good and like most Disney movies, Disney crafted fun leads that are very likable in Judy and Nick. It is in this perfection that Disney’s marketing monster kind of leaves a sour taste in the mouth of many adults because it feels very transparent at points.
Zootopia is an enjoyable film but it is a Disney film. The movie is just what you’d expect from Disney, but it does provide enough social commentary that it makes it watchable for adults. I wish Disney would push the envelope a little (like it attempted with movies like The Black Hole, Tron, and The Black Cauldron) and I’d love to see what type of animated feature would develop. Disney followed Zootopia with Moana which was also released in 2016.