Zootopia Review: And the Award for the Best Animated Feature Film of 2016 Goes to…
Directed by Byron Howard, Rich Moore, and Jared Bush, Zootopia is the latest animated feature film from Walt Disney Studios. The film tells the tale of a young female rabbit named Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) who dreams of one day becoming a police officer in Zootopia. With everyone second guessing her ability, Judy leaves her family behind to prove that she has what it takes to become the first female rabbit police officer in Zootopia. Once she arrives, Judy quickly realizes that achieving her dream isn’t going to be quite as easy as she hope for. Determined to prove she has what it takes, Judy teams up with a hustler fox named Nick (Jason Bateman) to solve a series of kidnappings taking place all over Zootopia.
Jus a few short months ago, Disney released a Sloth themed trailer for Zootopia. The trailer was nothing more than a short 2 minute scene from the film showing Sloths working in a DMV. I have seen that trailer at least five or six times by now and it still manages to make me laugh every time I see it. Based on the film’s marketing, I would have never thought that I would LOVE this film as much as I did. I expected to really enjoy it but after seeing it, I genuinely feel this could be one of the best films of 2016; if not the best.
How can I make such a bold statement you may ask? Well, I expected Zootopia to be this light-hearted silly animated story about animals but there is so much more to it than just that. Zootopia is one ballsy and edgy animated film that takes a whole lot of risk. Within the first 10 minutes, the story tackles the concept of being complacent, the idea of doubting a person’s self worth, exhibits a realistic look at trying to achieve a dream, and deals with bullying. Did I mention that all these topics were brought up in the first 10 minutes?
Throughout the rest of Zootopia, themes such as segregation, race relations, feminism, police brutality, lying politicians, fear tactics, as well as several other serious topics are addressed in an animated family film. I think that last part is what makes this film such a standout film. Nowadays, audiences are used to seeing PG-13 or R rated movies and documentaries about real world issues but never an animated family film that tackles so many complex issues that are so relevant to things going on right now in the real world.
Zootopia makes a huge statement about our society through cute, entertaining, and funny animated characters. This is a film about a rabbit and fox yet it has just as much depth as Michael Moore’s Where to Invade Next. It is remarkable that a major studio like Disney took this risk but I am proud and have so much respect for them in doing so. Children should be able to watch a film like this and then have a conversation about the events in this story with their parents. This feels like one of the most mature Disney films since the classics from back in the 50s and 60s.
Another refreshing thing to note is that the themes are not forced down our throat but rather conveyed in such a smart manner. These writers make important statements about the world without beating us over the head with them. The three directors have crafted wonderful and colorful characters for audiences to fall in love with and care about which is why the messages work so well. I loved Judy and Nick and their banter back and forth was delightful. Goodwin and Bateman were the perfect fit for these two characters. In fact, I thought the voice casting across the board was spot on. Everyone from Bonnie Hunt voicing Judy’s mom to Yax voiced by Tommy Chung.
The adventure that Judy and Nick go on felt just like one of those great oddball buddy comedies from the 80s and early 90s. I loved all the references to classic films such as the Godfather and television shows like Breaking Bad that were so cleverly worked into the story. The pacing was perfect and so were the jokes. I think its great that the writers didn’t make this a flat out comedy but rather mixed up the genres. Zootopia is ultimately an animated family dramedy with social commentary.
It seems kind of pointless to mention that the animation in Zootopia is stellar because with Disney, it is kind of expected that the quality is near perfection at this point. I do love the fact that the animators showcased all these different areas of the city of Zootopia and made them all different as though they were part of a real major city such as New York and Los Angeles. Just like the writers, the animators here really paid attention to detail. I really felt like everyone involved with this film from the directors to the animators felt extremely passionate about this project. It is so refreshing to see this in animated films that aren’t from Pixar.
All in all, I really don’t have a single negative thing to say about Zootopia. I think this is an amazing film that will stand the test of time. While I enjoyed Frozen, Wreck It Ralph, and Tangled, Zootopia is so much better simply due to the subjects being touched upon in such thoughtful and kid friendly manner. This is a film that kids can watch now and then go back and watch a few years from now and pick up on things that they missed when they were younger. Zootopia is very much like the original Toy Story; it has just as much for the adults as it does for the kids. Its a wonderful film and I would not be shocked if Zootopia wins the Golden Globe and Oscar next year for Best Animated Feature Film. Yes, it is really that good.
MovieManMenzel’s final rating for Zootopia is a 9.5 out of 10.
Oh and one last thing, Shakira plays a pop star giraffe named Gazelle in the film. I loved the song her character sang that played in the film and also during the film’s end credits because just like the rest of the film there was actually quite a bit of depth to the lyrics while being catchy.