4 1/2 Reels out of 5
Hey, Everybody and welcome to Flickmuncher.com! Those of you who read my Gods of Egypt review know that I was in a particularly foul mood that day. Well, I’m pleased to report that my spirits have brightened considerably since then. Much of that has to do with the film that I will be telling you about shortly. With that in mind…
WARNING – BEWARE OF WILD SPOILERS! (Seriously, beware. Spoilers can be dangerous.)
During winter months things can seem like such a drag sometimes. Going from day to day, waiting for the cold weather to end and you can do something that doesn’t involve skiing or sitting inside all day (especially here in the midwest), it seems so dreary at times and without anything remotely interesting. But then you get that rare day where the sun shines out and even though it’s still cold outside, you can’t help but go outside and think to yourself, “this isn’t so bad”.
Well, that particular day of sunshine just came for me in the form of Disney’s Zootopia. Admittedly, I’m a bit biased since I’ve been raised on Disney films—though to be fair, so has 95 percent of America—but that still doesn’t take away from what is a really enjoyable film. I don’t know what it is but Disney Animation has been on a creative roll lately and I think this is one of their most entertaining offerings thus far.
So what is Zootopia, you might ask? Well, lets find out.
Zootopia is the story of a young bunny named Judy Hopps (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin) who grows up in a world of anthropomorphic animals who wear clothes, walk on two legs, and talk like people. Judy’s lifelong dream is to leave her family’s carrot farm and go to the city of Zootopia to become the first ever bunny police officer. Determined to prove herself, Judy enlists the help of a street-wise con-artist fox named Nick Wilde (voiced by Jason Bateman) and the two find themselves in the middle of a case that could threaten everyone in Zootopia.
The story of this movie is hardly original. Buddy-cop/odd couple movies are almost as old as movies themselves. But what Zootopia lacks in originality it makes up for in creativity and execution. The two main characters are both likeable in unique ways, with Judy’s natural energy and idealistic tendencies and Nick’s smooth-talking and clever cynicism, that allows for some really clever and funny comedy between them. At the same time, their natural positions as “sly fox” and “dumb bunny” make for some very interesting and heartfelt moments that may fly over kids heads but will strike adults straight in the face about what someone can and can’t be. Much of this is delivered through the spot-on voice acting of Ginnifer Goodwin (who I always seem to pronounce with a heavy G instead of the J sound despite others pronouncing it as J) and Jason Bateman, who both knock their performances out of the park.
In regards to the plot itself, as a cop movie its actually very well set up and the payoff towards the end over who is responsible and why is handled brilliantly. I won’t dare spoil that plot-point but I will say that towards the end of the second act I was not entirely sure what was going to happen and that is the mark of a good plot. If there is a problem with the story, it is that there’s a bit of a drag at the end of the second act, and its a problem I feel many movies have(especially romantic comedies and dramas). Stop me if you’ve heard this before:
Judy hurts Nick. He leaves.
She feels bad about it and quits the force.
She goes home and mopes for a few minutes before having a revelation.
She goes back to Nick and says she’s sorry.
He forgives her and they get back on the case.
If this sounds familiar that’s because it is. Many movies have done this and continue to do this and while this by no means ruins the film, I do wish that they hadn’t used this particular trope because it feels like a waste of time that could have been spent in better ways. That slip-up aside, the plot is still enjoyable even though, like I said earlier, it’s hardly original. But moving on.
Let me make this perfectly clear. I MUST GO TO ZOOTOPIA! There is just so much to love about this place and the level of detail that the creators put into it is astounding. The design is very reminiscent of San Fransokyo from Big Hero 6 but it has its own character, taking advantage of naturally bright color as opposed to the neon palette Big Hero 6 used. From how different sections of the city are set up with separate climates, I especially got a kick from Tundratown and Little Rodentia, to how shops provide their wares to tiny voles and tall giraffes, it shows how much care was put into making the place a living breathing city. It’s so alive as a character in its own right that I just want to see more of it. In fact, I want Disney to make this into a theme park right now just so I can see this whole world that these filmmakers created. Yes, I know that Disney World has the Animal Kingdom but if Star Wars, a world that has much less official flesh on its bones, can get a theme park then why can’t this? Yes, I just compared Zootopia to Star Wars.
Finally, there’s the humor. A few weeks ago I put up a review on Deadpool, a movie that many found hilariously entertaining. I noted the fact that though there were a few moments that I found genuinely hilarious, not a lot of the jokes hit for me. Zootopia was for me, the exact opposite of that on the humor scale. I was laughing constantly throughout this film and so was my sister who joined me. Some bits had us laughing so hard, I thought we might be bothering the kids who were watching the movie in the rows just behind us.
Zootopia is one of those films that’s probably funnier for adults than it is for kids, though there are plenty of jokes for them too. But the thing that I think sets this and other animated movie offerings apart is how clever that humor is. The filmmakers know that they have to make it kid-friendly and yet they want a movie that they would want to watch as well. So, they have to be more creative in how they set up and present their jokes. So they throw in sly nods and references that mean nothing to a child but is extra entertaining to an adult. Plus, they allow the jokes time to develop, something that rarely happens in this era of movie making. Usually jokes come a mile-a-second. This also adds watchability in the long-term because kids and even us adults will come back years from now and see things that they had missed the first time.
Is this Disney Animation’s best film ever? No, not really. Will it be the greatest box office hit of it’s era? Probably, not. But I can say with absolute certainty that this is the most fun and entertaining time I’ve had in a theater since I went to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I cannot recommend it enough. It has something for everyone. The kids’ll enjoy the animals, the environment, and the colors. The teens and adults’ll have a blast with the jokes and get a heartfelt and unusual story out of it at the end. Even if you don’t have any kids, get some friends and go see it anyway because it’s not something to miss out on.
I do have one question for the filmmakers though. What was with that Shakira animal Gazelle? Is she seriously Zootopia’s only celebrity?
Next week: We travel to California to ponder justice, revenge, and what on earth charm has to do with a spoon in 1993’s The Mask of Zorro.
What did you guys think of Zootopia? Was it what you expected? Better? Worse? Let me know in the comments section below, or contact me on Twitter @LightWielder524. I look forward to hearing all your thoughts.
Have a great week and as always, May the Flick be with You!