Disney-animated anthropomorphic animals make a triumphant return to the big screen in Walt Disney Animation Studios’ clever, charming, and thought-provoking new feature Zootopia.
The story is focused on bunny Judy Hopps (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin), who has had a life-long dream of becoming a police officer. After her hard work gets her a spot on the Zootopia Police Force, she is relegated to city parking enforcement. That’s where she meets street smart fox Nick Wilde (voiced by Jason Bateman), who is up to, well, some sly antics in the city. When a big mystery begins to unfold within the Zootopia city limits, Judy jumps at the chance to prove herself in helping to solve the case, even if it means she has to collaborate with Nick Wilde, who she seriously mistrusts from both experience and her own natural bunny instincts. The movie turns into a buddy cop comedy adventure with interesting twists and turns as Judy and Nick have to work together to find a solution to the puzzle.
While talking Disney-animated animals are a mainstay of the house that Walt built (Mickey Mouse cartoons along with feature films like Bambi, Cinderella, The Jungle Book, and The Lion King, just to name a few) it’s been a while since Disney Animation has a done a feature length film with upright-walking, talking, and clothed animals (Robin Hood is a personal favorite). And co-directors Byron Howard and Rich Moore have really given us not only a visual and fun treat with the talking, walking animals of Zootopia, but they’ve also created a film that makes you think about some of the deeper issues facing us in our human society today, namely the judgments we place on others solely because of their race.
As far as animation goes, Zootopia takes the Disney animated film to another level of excellence. The animation in the film is meticulously detailed and stunningly beautiful. The character designs are perfect in their detail and execution. The state-of-the-art rendering of fur, animal skin of all types, and fabrics were all so well done. And the amazing metropolis of Zootopia the city becomes a character in and of itself, not unlike San Fransokyo in Big Hero 6, thanks to the incredible designs by the film’s artists and technicians. Every frame is beautifully lit and perfectly framed, too. It is just such a delight to watch.
While it was easy to get wrapped up in the technical and artistic excellence of the film, the entertaining, timely, and bold story is also equally appealing. The filmmakers’ take on racial prejudice in this fictional animal world as a reflection of our own society is a theme that, under lesser hands and minds, could have easily been heavy handed and overbearing. Instead, it’s all handled with aplomb and gentleness, allowing us as the audience to make our decisions and to examine our own feelings and viewpoints while being entertained on top of it all.
I really loved this film. Go see it with your family and friends, have a laugh, and, more importantly, have a discussion about the complicated beauty of living well with all people.
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Epilogue: As an added bonus, I saw Zootopia for the first time on the Walt Disney Studios lot in Burbank, California. Many thanks to Animation Fascination editor-in-chief Marc Vibbert and the great team at the Walt Disney Studios for making a dream/bucket list item come true.
Official Zootopia Website: http://movies.disney.com/zootopia