The last animated movie that I found to be absolutely fantastic and nearly perfect would have to be Inside Out, which is no surprise because it was from the Disney/Pixar collaboration that presents us with gold at an alarming success rate. The projects made solely by Disney can wildly vary in quality though but here we have a film that is both charming, hilarious, meaningful and incredibly smart. See, Norm of the North? It can be done.
The plot is pretty straight-forward: in a time where all animals are anthropomorphic entities who all basically get along, one particular bunny named Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin), who wants to be a police officer for her entire young life even when it leads to adverse effects. She is determined though and eventually she makes it to the hustle and bustle of Zootopia… as a meter maid. However, after a chance encounter with a young, cunning fox (Jason Bateman) she is able to use her wits to attempt to solve a major case involving 14 missing mammals. Along the way, she runs into some incredibly zany characters and also learns a powerful message of tolerance and understanding.
Right off the bat, I will say that this film is excellent… and not even just as an animated film that the whole family can enjoy. This movie promotes some fantastic morals and reminds people that just because some of us are different that it does not mean we should be treated differently. The way in which foxes are discriminated against in an early scene in the film taking place in an ice cream parlour rings eerily similar to such things that happened frequently in the 1950s and 60s in terms of treatment of non-white people in public and private businesses. The lessons that we learn from the characters are not hammered in your head like, say, in Happy Feet but rather it just lies underneath the surface of the plot and is very easy to spot for any adult watching it. Oh sure, everything is cute and pretty and funny and goofy but it manages to have important moments at the same time that work alongside these silly moments like clockwork.
The movie looks beautiful as well. The animation is simply stunning but that shouldn’t be a surprise from an animation studio like Disney but the details of the city are just awe-inspiring. From the tiniest little in-jokes to a brilliant take on a very popular TV show on AMC that is SOLELY for adults, you will appreciate every little morsel of hard work that went into making this world. The characters are very well-designed too. Judy Hopps is the most adorable bunny in the world (but don’t call her cute!) and there are some fairly scary-looking creatures too like the police chief, who is a big frightening bull that towers over everyone else. The voice actors were very carefully chosen as well. Ginnifer gives Judy a certain sweetness but also a very balanced sense of worth while Jason Bateman couldn’t possibly be any better as the wily-but-well-meaning fox. We also get some fun additional roles like Jenny Slate’s cute voice as an assistant mayor/sheep, J.K. Simmons doing his usual schtick as the mayor, Idris Elba being very intimidating as Chief Bogo, Tommy Chong as a spaced-out yak (great casting there, eh?) and Shakira playing on her own image as a pop singer/gazelle.
Yeah, so I can’t recommend this one enough. If you’re looking for a tremendous animated film that will keep you just as entertained as the kids and will teach them amazing lessons about respecting and treating people just as you’d want to be treated then look no further than Zootopia. It’s one of the best animated films in years.
* (Brutal; the worst rating)
** (Some elements keep it from being awful but still not very good)
*** (Completely watchable; a rental as old-timers might say)
**** (Great film with a few things here and there keeping it from being perfect)
***** (Flawless; a true achievement)