A Welcome Invite to the Big City: Our Review of ‘Zootopia’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - March 04, 2016
A Welcome Invite to the Big City: Our Review of ‘Zootopia’

The bar of quality in the worlds of animation has been set so high in recent years that it is hard to imagine anyone being able to keep up to a standard that they themselves have set.  While Disney’s Zootopia does have a couple of heavy handed moments here and there as it delivers an effective message about discrimination it also just happens to be some of the best world building that the Disney animators have done in years.

The thriving metropolis of Zootopia is simply like no other where animals live in harmony throughout neighborhoods like the upscale Sahara Square, Little Rodentia and Tundratown.  No matter what you are, or what size you are you can be anything you want in this melting pot of the animal kingdom.  When the gleefully optimistic Officer Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) arrives on the force as the first bunny officer, things are harder than she ever expected being a fluffy bunny in a room full of rough and tough animals.  Determined to prove that she is more than her fluffy exterior, she jumps at the chance to crack a big case against the orders of her superiors and has to enlist the help of a smooth talking con man fox Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) in order to save the day and uncover a plot of corruption that has spread to the highest halls of power in her newly adopted city.

The movies that have been coming out of the Disney/Pixar machine lately have just been so darn good that it is easy to forget that they are still movies targeted at children.  While Zootopia does get a little heavy handed and clunky with its message of treating people of different races, creeds, colours and genders equally it still plays amazing well as a family friendly buddy cop movie with lots of action and some top notch animation as it explores every nook and cranny of this universe that has been created.ZOOTOPIA-01

This has to easily be one of the first times that a “Director/Writer By Committee” has actually worked on any movie as Disney and Pixar veterans like Byron Howard, Rich Moore and Jared Bush all share directing duties while also having worked on the screenplay and story with four other people.  Granted to kid-centric clunky moments are hard to avoid but everything flows with a fair amount of ease to the point that it almost feels like they took the template of a Shane Black cop movie and pasted it in here.  The movie simply clicks and as they go through the in and outs of Zootopia we are treated to subtle little in jokes and visual Easter eggs that will delight any hardcore animation fan.  This is a movie that is very aware of both the kid and adult audience that it is pushing itself on.

Ginnifer Goodwin is a pitch perfect choice as our heroine Judy Hopps as she struggles against a system that doesn’t necessarily want her there while Jason Bateman gets to the other side of the coin as people tend to never see his Nick Wilde as nothing more than a dangerous fox.  They have great chemistry together and every challenge that they tackle feels believable while the jokes are for the most part, incredibly fresh.  The supporting players don’t get a lot to do in this one, but Jenny Slate & Idris Elba provide some memorable turns in order to get this entire story where it needed to go.

Ultimately, Zootopia shines thanks to some fresh jokes and stunning animation wrapped up in an important social message for anyone of any age, as we can never judge a book by its cover, only what we read inside of it.  Quite simply, Zootopia is the kind of city that you won’t mind getting lost in.


This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like Examiner.com, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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