Written By Jacob Chimilar (@sweetlows)
The past few years have seen the resurgence of Disney Animation being the king of the animated realm. Once dominated by their partner Pixar, Disney Animation has progressively been making better and better movies since its relaunch overseen by John Lasseter, something that actually saw the decline of Pixar for a while as a result. Starting with Chicken Little then Meet the Robinsons, Bolt, The Princess and The Frog, Tangled, Wreck It Ralph, Frozen, Big Hero 6 and now Zootopia.
This has got to be the current feather in Disney's cap from an animation standpoint alone. What The Good Dinosaur did for beautifully rendered landscapes, Zootopia did for furry animals. If the Pixar team that worked on Monsters Inc could see this movie then they may just cry. From giraffes to foxes, bunnies, sheep, rams, weazels, all of them just so well designed and textured. One tiny thing that got me was the hat Judy Hopps character wears, there is one shot I noticed that you could see the little bits of fuzz in her bowler hat that looked so realistic that that alone deserved a high five for the animators.
But its not enough to have a marvelously rendered world, the characters have to be just as realistic and on that front it delivers. At the heart of this movie is timely and timeless message of inclusion. Zootopia is a place where they acknowledge that in the past animals were wild savage creatures and survival of the fittest was the name of the game, but now everyone lives in a modern civilized society, where everyone has the ability to do anything they want and as is the mantra throughout the film, “Try Anything”. However stereotypes still exist and that makes things a lot harder than it should be.
Enter Judy Hopps, a tenacious bunny who wants to grow up to be a cop and make the world a better place. The thing that's holding her back? She's a bunny, bunnies don't become cops, Lions, tigers, and bears do. This doesn't stop Judy, she puts in the time and the effort and in true underdog (underbunny?) fashion becomes top of her class in the academy and goes straight to the top precinct of Zootopia. Totally jazzed for her first day, Captain Bogo runs down their top priority case, the current string of disappearances plaguing Zootopia. He assigns everyone a sector to patrol, each area is its own climate, there are saharas, jungles, and frozen tundras to look for clues. Judy however is assigned simply to parking duty.
While on duty, a weasel is spotted stealing from a near by store and Judy chases the perp down through a tiny town inhabited by mice, the two of them like Godzillas stomping through the town. She books the weasel and brings him in to the station. Captain Bogo is not pleased, she disobeyed orders and put people in danger. Just as he is about to fire her, an otter tells of her husband's disappearance, Judy offers to take the case. The news spreads fast and Captain Bogo has no choice but to allow her, with one caveat, she must solve the case in 48 hours if she wants to keep her job.
Enter Nick Wilde, a fox who is the ultimate hustler, living up to the reputation all foxes seem to have. A cunning cheat, who knows everyone and cons any one. Through a random, and not so random set of circumstances Judy catches Nick in a hustle, which he weasels out of, but is then blackmailed into helping the bunny cop by threatening to book him for tax evasion, Even hustling foxes have to pay their taxes She enrolls Nick in helping her track down leads on one of the animals currently missing in Zootopia. The game is a foot and the unlikely duo of Hopps and Wilde are on the case!
This movie was a ton of fun. It's a buddy cop movie done right with a great message of inclusion. It shines a light onto the ugly face of prejudice. the nasty thing that does not go away. It's not something that happens once in isolated incidents, it's everywhere all the time and perpetuated by everyone in some form or another and Zootopia aims to make that clear. The voice cast is excellent, Jason Bateman and Ginnifer Goodwin are great as Nick and Judy, I could watch those two on a buddy cop tv show any time, make it happen Disney! On top of that the jokes are great, some nice references and in jokes that fans of Frozen especially will get. Kids and adults were both laughing along in the theatre in equal measure.
I can see myself revisiting this movie again and again, its a fast, funny movie with heart, action, adventure, mystery, beautiful cinematography and a male/female duo who have no intention of having a romantic relationship, what a concept! I guess that having the two be a fox and a bunny helps, that would raise some serious questions for kids and parents alike, and not the kind Disney is looking to explore. This is everything the Disney brand promises to deliver on, cheers, tears, scares and the warm and fuzzies, whether it's on two legs or four go and see Zootopia, it's a blast.