Movie Review: Zootopia (2016)
Director: Byron Howard, Rich Moore
Voiceovers: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, Jenny Slate, with Nate Torrence, and J.K. Simmons as Mayor Lionheart
Writers: Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Jared Bush, Jim Reardon, Josie Trinidad, Phil Johnston, and Jennifer Lee
Rating: 4.9/5 stars
The ingeniously conceived and brilliantly executed “Zootopia” offers a subtly delivered, thought-provoking message that’s as timely and topical as its gorgeous visual splendor is immersive and delightful. And, it does all this and more while being fast-paced, extremely witty, at times rib-tickling hilarious, and wholly exciting. It’s the kind of matured entertainment that doesn’t alienate adults but also ensures that it refrains from talking down to kids.
The largest elephant to the smallest shrew and everything in between live in the city of Zootopia – a mammal metropolis, a melting hot-pot of cultures and races, where various animals live in harmony, at least on the face of things. Enter Judy Hopps, the first bunny to join the police force. Her dreams and zeal are quickly sent for a toss when she learns just how arduous a task it is to enforce the law. Not one to ever be deterred, Judy jumps at the chance of cracking a mysterious case that’s left the entire force baffled. However, that also means teaming with Nick Wilde, a wily, fast-talking, con-fox who makes her job and life all the more harder.
On the surface, this Disney venture is quite conventional on many levels, but as the layers begin to peel off, there’s so much wit, flair, and subtle hints at societal woes that it outperforms many a deeply themed, adult-driven drama. This is dressed as nothing but a buddy-cop movie aimed at kids that slowly and unexpectedly metamorphoses into a political thriller, with underlying social and racial themes. A la, George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” with a sweet, modern-day Disneyfied twist – “Zootopia” almost plays like an LA film noir that delivers a feel-good message about being non-prejudiced to folks, who’re different to us in race, and the need for tolerance in an increasingly fearful and diverse world.
“Zootopia” just scores on so many home runs on so many fronts that it instantly finds itself right up there with the cremè-de-la-crème of Disney classics like “The Lion King”, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”, “Beauty and the Beast”, and “Aladdin”. So entertaining, so satisfying, so introspective.