Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Movie Review: Zootopia

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Creative world building, lots of great laughs
Cons: Uneven pacing; moral preached at one point
The Bottom Line:
Creative world made
Of civilized animals
Is setting for laughs

“It’s Called a Hustle, Sweetheart.”

I love previews for movies.  They help get me excited for upcoming releases.  Watching the previews for Zootopia put it on the top of my watch list, although real life kept me from going to see it as soon as it came out.  I have finally gotten to see it, and I definitely enjoyed it.

The movie is set in a world where animals live and work just like humans.  In fact, there are no humans in the film at all.

Judy Hopps (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin) has dreamed all of her life about being a police officer.  When her chance finally comes, she enters her first day with enthusiasm, only to be put on parking duty.  She’s less than enthused, but she is determined to do her best and prove to them she can be a great police officer.

There have been a number of strange disappearances of animals, and through a twist of events, Judy finds herself assigned to find one of them.  With her career on the line, her only clue causes her t0 team up with Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) a fox she met her first day on the job.  Can she find the missing animal, or will she have to turn in her badge and go home in defeat?

The world that the animators have created for this movie is absolutely wonderful.  There are so many fun details and hidden jokes that will make you grin or laugh as you watch.  I’m sure I missed many of them, and I look forward to watching it again to find them.  It’s these kind of details that used to make Pixar movies so wonderful, and I fully credit John Lassiter, former director at Pixar and now head of Disney Animation, for it.  While kids might miss some of them, adults will love them.

The story is a bit slow, especially at the beginning.  There is a lot of set up before Judy and Nick team up on the case.  I’m not sure how it could have been shortened, but once the mystery begins in earnest, the film really picks up.  The jokes keep coming just as quickly, but the twists and surprises of the plot add to the fun.

The film has a good moral about judging others, however at one point it seems to me to slow down the story in order to preach at us.  Once the story picks back up, the film heads toward a wonderful climax that I absolutely loved.  I saw pieces of it coming, but I didn’t mind because the execution was just so fun.

The voice cast is fantastic.  I’m a fan of Ginnifer Goodwin from her work on Once Upon a Time, and it was fun to hear her voice as the lead.  Jason Bateman is fantastic is the sly fox Nick.  There are a few other well-known actors in the cast, but there are as many I wasn’t familiar with.  Whether you recognize the voice or not, you’ll definitely get lost in the fun of the story.

And the animation is fantastic.  The detail is amazing, and helps bring all the jokes and fun of this new world to life.  It truly does amaze me what animation can do these days, and I love getting to enjoy the results.

Parents will want to know that a few scenes could be frightening and intense for young or sensitive kids.  I probably wouldn’t have liked them as a kid.  Another scene finds Judy and Nick at a nudist colony.  No, we don’t see anything, and I actually found it very funny, but parents may want to be prepared beforehand.

Oh, and watch for a great line that totally mocks much of the Disney canon.  I was the only person laughing at the line in the theater when I saw it (granted, it was a very small crowd on a weeknight), but it was easily the best line in the film for me.

Creativity and fun are truly the stars of Zootopia.  While it does have some flaws, it is another wonderful film that will be enjoyed for years to come.