Directors: Byron Howard, Rich Moore, & Jared Bush
Run Time: 1h 48m
Bunnies and foxes and sloths! Oh my!!!
Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) is a bunny who dreams bigger than just being a carrot farmer like her parents…and her 200+ siblings. She has wanted to be a police officer her entire life, and is thrilled when her fame as the first bunny to graduate from the police academy lands her a spot in the city-center of Zootopia. However, she is not well-liked among her fellow officers and is assigned the lowly duty of parking attendant. While mastering the art of ticket writing, she meets Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) who is one sly fox. When she volunteers to find the missing Emmett Otterton — against the wishes of her Chief Bogo (Idris Elba) — she is given 48 hours to prove herself or quit. She enlists Nick to help her crack the case of the missing otter. Nick is reluctant at first but the unlikely duo is catapulted into a case that is bigger than just one Otter. They find clues but also peril, henchman, and a secret so big it could potentially destroy Zootopia forever.
Not gonna lie, this movie is pretty adorable and a lot of fun. It’s not quite as good as I was hoping based on the buzz surrounding it, but it’s still a solid movie.
The writing is tremendous. As with most quality children’s movies there are quite a few jokes for the adults. What sets Zootopia apart is the fact that they don’t have to get dirty to get the parents in the room to laugh. (I mean, sloths working at the DMV?? You get it.) They also offer a few pop culture references and nods to famous movies (ie. The Godfather, Breaking Bad). Yet somehow, they make the jokes appealing to both the tall people who know the material and the shorter ones who just think it’s funny that a tiny mouse is a mob boss named Mr. Big. Even the jokes that are childish are still sources of great humor for everyone. There could be some questionable concerns over a joke told about a three-humped camel, or a “nudist” colony they encounter. Other than that though I’d say you’re safe.
The amount of suspense is just right as well. This movie is rated PG so it’s the MPAA’s version of warning parents that your youngest children may not enjoy it. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that this is about a missing mammal and there are quite a few chase scenes. There’s also a somewhat sinister reveal about what’s really going on, but I don’t believe it’s anything inappropriate for children. The chase scenes I mentioned aren’t any scarier than say the jaguar scene from Tarzan or the bear scene from The Fox and the Hound. It’s kid-friendly. I promise.
Parents will also appreciate the many life-lessons this film wants to teach your kids: Pursuing your dreams no matter what people say; Overcoming stereotypes — whether you are on the receiving end or the judgmental one; Appreciating and encouraging diversity; Learning from your mistakes; And to round it all out…politics. By telling the story and showcasing these important ideals by using animals, a child can be both entertained and educated. Isn’t that a good thing?
Unfortunately I do have one [extremely petty] complaint. This movie should not be called ZOOtopia. Zoos have all sorts of animals: mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds, fish… Zootopia only has mammals. That’s only 20% of a zoo. I’m just saying! Because I’m a [word I can’t say because this is for the children]. However to be fair, Mammaltopia doesn’t have quite the same ring to it. So I get it.
Obviously I highly recommend this movie for family fun night at the theater. It’s safe. It’s fun. And it’s cute. Just be sure to stick around during the credits for a dance party brought to you by Zootopia pop sensation, Gazelle (Shakira).
One of my favorite movies growing up was about another missing mammal. But it wasn’t a cop assigned to the case, it was a detective. The Great Mouse Detective to be exact. This 1986 Disney classic followed Basil of Baker Street as he searches for a missing toy maker…who is also a mouse. Oh, and Vincent Price voices the villain. No big deal.