Review: Zootopia Is Another Amazing Family Movie From Disney
Director: Byrom Howard, Rich Moore, and Jared Bush
Screenwriter: Jared Bush (screenplay and story), Phil Johnston (screenplay and story), Byron Howard (story), Rich Moore (story), Jennifer Lee (story), Josie Trinidad (story), Jim Reardon (story), and Dan Fogelman (additional story material)
Principal Cast: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, Jenny Slate, Nate Torrence, and Bonnie Hunt
Summary: In a city of anthropomorphic animals, a fugitive con artist fox and rookie bunny cop must work together to uncover a conspiracy.
I feel like there are going to be quite a few people that are going to go into Zootopia unaware that it is a Disney movie. The Disney animated movies have largely gone to Pixar these days and this one isn’t princess centered or based on a Marvel comic. While there has been plenty of marketing for this movie, I feel like people aren’t talking about it as much as I thought they would be. This is a company that is pretty much making all of the money at the box office right now between Star Wars, Marvel and Pixar. Now Disney is stepping in and reminding us that they aren’t just the intellectual properties and studios that they own.
Zootopia is a surprisingly deep and meaningful family movie that proves that you can have thought provoking stories and still keep young children engaged.
There are minor spoilers throughout this review because the marketing has done a good job of hiding what this actual movie is about. If you want to go in completely dark skip to the second to last paragraph.
Perhaps I can’t entirely be the judge, but the trailers of Zootopia that I have seen have done a great job of hiding what this movie is actually about. They are mostly playing up the obvious gags that are both funny to adults and children. For example; the sloths at the DMV scene. The kids are going to laugh because everything is done in slow motion while the adults are going to laugh because DMV lines are notoriously The Worst. I’m glad that this is the only part of the movie that I’ve seen because the message that is actually coming through is something so relevant to today’s youth. The real message of this movie is inclusivity. It’s all about accepting people for who they are and ignoring the “biology” behind prejudice. That is some very heavy stuff for any movie, but Zootopia frames it in the best possible way; through funny jokes, a clever script and a real understanding of the issue they are tackling.
I’ve always said that kids are a lot smarter than we give them credit for, but there are some things that need to be framed in simpler terms so kids can understand them. Zootopia manages to bring the issue down to basic terms. In this case it is a predator versus prey, and takes real incidences and frames them on a good visual terms. The scenes where a predator sits next to prey on public transportation and the prey looks nervous and eases her child away isn’t subtle at all. The way they frame it with animals is a good way of helping kids understand what it means to be inclusive to all of those around us. In a world with Donald Trump, Hispanic kids being threatened deportation or losing their parents to deportation and Muslim kids that are afraid to tell their classmates their religion, I can’t even begin to express how important it is that the next generation understands that we’re all human beings. I would also say that framing it with animals is a good way to smack some of the parents in the audience about how silly some of them are being with their ideals about other races, sexual orientations and religions.
Zootopia is a great family movie because there are plenty of jokes for everyone. As the movie uses its world to make its message known, it also uses plenty of visual gags that work on multiple levels. I feel like a kids movie isn’t a kids movie now unless they make some sort of Breaking Bad joke for the adults in the audience to understand. Our two leads, Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin), and Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman), are great and their friendship is slow moving and believable. Judy’s upbeat attitude and perky demeanor could have easily gotten irritating, but much like Joy in last years Inside Out she walks that line. Judy’s determination to prove everyone wrong about a bunny being a cop is relatable to anyone who has ever been told they couldn’t do something. She gets even better once her and Nick start working together. The villains, once they are revealed, are great once we understand who they are and what their plan is.
Zootopia feels a lot like Disney kicking down the door to the animation industry and reminding all of us why they are the founders of animated kids movie. Zootopia is a topical with a great message but avoids becoming too preachy. With plenty of laughs and jokes for everyone of all ages, Zootopia is undoubtedly going to stand tall with some of the best of modern Disney movies.