There’s a classic saying by George Eliot that “You should never judge a book by its cover”, or in this case you shouldn’t judge a movie by its poster or its equally stupid looking trailer. Seriously, the 2016 animated Disney movie “Zootopia” looked like the stupidest thing the studio produced sense “Chicken Little”. The concept of animals living like humans seemed silly, the character designs looked very childish, and the advertisements only made this film look like your typical unintelligent sugar food for young children’s minds. Then the reviews came out, and to my surprise “Zootopia” was receiving critical acclaim, and lot’s of high recommendations. So I thought to myself, maybe there’s something special to this film after all, but don’t count on it to be on par with something like “Frozen”. Well, I bought my ticket, sat down and had one of the most pleasant surprises I’ve had in a while. “Zootopia” was not only a really good film, but I honestly think it’s one of Disney’s best, like in the top 3 of their CGI films.
As stated above, “Zootopia” takes place in a world with no people, only animals who dress and live like people in a big city. It may sound strange, but it works, and is both creative with its setting, while also keeping some familiar lifestyles and human complexities in check. Our story revolves around Judy Hopps, a bunny who dreams to become a police officer in the big city. This will be challenging as only strong animals are allowed on the force, but she’s determined to go the distance and prove her with the badge. When an assignment involving missing animals falls on her lap, she teams up with a sly and mischievous fox named Nick Wilde to track down clues and crake the case. Chases ensue, villains are discovered, and a plot is formulated to infect some specific animals with a virus that reverts them back to their primal states.
So what’s the message of this movie, well obviously it’s about fallowing your dreams, and committing yourself to an ideal while facing difficult odds, as well as a noticeable lack of support from all around you. Oh wait, it also has a timely message revolving around the politics of stereotyping, social classes being diverse, racial insensitivities, and meditates on our human nature. Interesting, and wait there’s more, it’s also about standing up for the little guy, looking closer to what makes us similar as opposed to what makes us different, and ... wow, this movie is actually very smart, meaningful, and infuses it’s morals with a really fun experience. Seriously, for all this movie has to offer, it never comes off as overly preachy. It still has lots of substance and its overall message revolving around prejudice is great, but the movie maintains a very brisk pace, is very funny, and brought to life through its gorgeously rendered state of the art animation.
The characters were all instantly lovable, mostly thanks to the voice cast who infused them with lots of personality. The individual back-stories behind our two main characters were also quiet powerful, but in a simplistic way that was easy to relate to. I absolutely loved the overall animal themed world and how creative the main city was set up. There’s a rain forest section for rain forest animals, a winter section for winter animal, a small section for little animals, etc. Each section of this city is chalk full of personality, and creative visuals. There’s a scene early in the film is which our characters board a train which travels through the different sections of the city, and it feels like the blue prints of what would be one heck of an awesome Disneyland ride. Even the comedy was very cleaver, and I’ll be darned it I didn’t have some big laughs in this film. The plot also has just enough smart twists and turns to keep audiences interested.
While I loved both Disney’s “Frozen” and “Big Hero 6”, they also had a lot of tropes that were guaranteed to rope me in for more than one viewing. I like musicals set in fantasy worlds, I like action packed super hero stories, but “Zootopia” wasn’t either of those. It was just a genuinely good movie, with great characters, thoughtful morals and beautiful artistry. It proves the Disney doesn’t have to stick to its common formulas, it can just be something smart and fun for all viewers. I had a great time with this film, highly recommend it, and have high expectations for what Disney gives us next.