Disney’s Zootopia might be a kids animated pic, but as the studio has proven over and over again (especially with certain Pixar entries) – there are important adult themes at play here. These are mainly focused on not letting fear and prejudice overcome our diversity and the betterment of society. If that sounds like a message we may need in 2016, your animal instincts are correct.
Zootopia is a gorgeously drawn land in which all animals live in harmony. Well, mostly harmony. There’s still crime in the world and that leads precocious bunny Judy Hopps (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin) to dream of being a police officer for the ZPD. She would be the first of her kind to join the force as it’s made up of “predator” animals. Those predators make up just a fraction of the population as opposed to the “prey”. And it’s the pre judgment of these predators that serves as the pic’s dramatic through line.
Hopps is determined to prove history wrong in her new job, but her first lowly assignment is parking meter duty. Wouldn’t you know, however, that the assignment puts her smack dab in the middle of a big case where various animals are going missing? She soon teams with petty con artist Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) and their adventures bring them to various sectors of our title like the Rainforest District and Little Rodentia (which is adorable).
The clever plot from screenwriters Jared Bush and Phil Johnston offers some genuine surprises as it unfolds. There’s political corruption and there’s well constructed action sequences that we’ve seen in many detective tales (or should we say detective tail here?). We also have some bits that will make parents laugh as much as their little ones. The sloth scene/DMV scene is pretty genius. There’s even a nice Breaking Bad reference for the old folks.
Even if Zootopia never completely reaches the heights of the studio’s masterpieces, it comes darn close a lot of the time. You’ll be happy kids receive its worthy message of individuality and perseverance while being howlingly entertained. Maybe its message is one the grown ups should pay attention to as well.
***1/2 (out of four)