Zootopia Succeeds at Reaching Audiences of All Ages
Ever since I saw the first poster of Zootopia, it had my interest and curiosity, as any teaser poster should. Then I saw the first teaser trailer and was instantly hooked for this film, the same way the first Secret Life of Pets trailer had me. In fact, the more I saw of Zootopia, with its trailers and clips and reading about how the animators developed this entire world, the more I became excited for this film. Then it got 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and I thought that was crazy. How could any animated film score higher than Toy Story 3? (If you didn’t know, TS3 has a 99% rating.) EDITED: Zootopia now has a 98% rating on Rotten Tomates.
Well it was finally time to see Zootopia and the movie was everything I expected from it, almost. Zootopia is Disney’s first animated film of 2016 and it runs on all cylinders. The film centers around Judy Hopps, a small female bunny voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin who, through much adversity, successfully becomes Zootopia’s first bunny police officer and is determined to become one of the best in the city. However, after she arrives at her new precinct, she is met with prejudice by many and is given meter maid duty. Eventually, she ends up volunteering to help find an otter’s husband which infuriates her Chief and gives her 48 hours to find him or she must resign. It is here when she teams up with Nick Wilde, the sly fox voiced by Jason Bateman.
The film is a fully realized concept showing us all sorts of ways how animals of every caliber could live and function in a truly domesticated world such as our own. The city is broken up into different sections, each representing a specific habitat such as the rainforest, frozen tundra, and even the concrete jungle. We see the king of the jungle as mayor (Ha, two corny jokes in a row), elephants scooping ice cream with their trunks, and hamsters travel via tubing. It seems as though the animators thought of every detail one could think of. I can only imagine how much time they spent researching and developing these ideas.
The voice acting is perfect with Ginnifer Goodwin, known for playing Snow White on Once Upon a Time, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, Nate Torrence, J.K. Simmons, and the list goes on. To be asuccessful animated film, one of the key aspects it depends on is its voice casting. If done poorly, it can hurt the film. Zootopia casted perfectly, and every character was great.
Usually, Disney and Pixar animated films contain adult themes and jokes in their films to entertain the adults as well as the children. It’s become so common that any animated film which doesn’t contain adult elements hidden within, I consider to be subpar. It’s important to have that balance so as to entertain audiences of all ages. Thankfully, this applies to Zootopia. It has a handful of adult jokes that are so subtle only a few of us caught them. There is even a whole scene referencing Breaking Bad, which was unreal. It’s an innocent reference which no kid will get, but any adult who is a fan of the show will love!
Now the main point of the film is its social commentary built right into the characters and plot of the film. Don’t worry, this is spoiler free. Disney uses Zootopia as a means of addressing sexism and racism which can of course still be seen in today’s world. I have a personal friend who felt annoyed at the on-the-nose concept throughout the film saying it was so obvious, it took him out of the film. However, I felt the complete opposite. I think it was a creative and interesting way to teach children about these issues we still have in our society and for that, I give Zootopia an A+. Parents can take their children to this film and use it as a learning tool. Maybe it is too obvious, but it definitely isn’t on the same level of Avatar trying to get us to save the planet.
Zootopia is a knockout for Disney and a great way to start off the year. The animation is gorgeous and the characters are memorable. It challenges societal issues while showing us a compelling story. I’ll admit, I was a bit weary when I first learned of the 48 hour crime case; it being not at all what I thought the film would be about, but it pulled me right it and kept me entertained the entire time. I only have a few minor complaints of the film. There is an obvious foreshadowing in the film directly about the plot and the villain was a bit easy to guess. And I do wish we had seen even more of the Zootopia city and how the animals live within it because for me, that was one of the most interesting aspects about this film. But other than those minor critiques, the film is excellent and I highly recommend it to audiences of all ages.