Plot: When big dreamer Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) finally gets her wish of being a cop in Zootopia, she indirectly lands a missing persons case that goes deeper down the rabbit hole (pun intended?) than she ever could’ve imagined.
I was honestly kind of baffled at how quiet the marketing was for Zootopia. It’s a Disney film, after all, and despite seeing a couple of trailers and tv spots, it wasn’t as “in your face” as I thought it would be. Truth be told, I would have to say that they didn’t know how to market it, as what you see in advertisements is just the tip of the iceberg for this flick.
The aforementioned Judy Hopps starts out as an adorable little bunny in her hometown, with (what some would consider) delusions of grandeur. She plans to become one enforcing the law when she grows up, but her parents try to bring her back down to earth. So do her peers, as well, and one of them takes it out on her violently. I’m not going to lie here; this is a very interesting way to open a Disney film, especially one aimed at children. Judy is being either insulted or torn down in the first five minutes, and for those of you who like animated films with a lot of fluff, you’re not going to find it here. Zootopia tells you right from the get go its not a typical movie featuring talking animals. More on that later.
Beating the odds, Judy does make it to be a cop in the titular city, and in her travels, meets a a swindler named Nicholas P. Wilde (Jason Bateman). From her childhood, Judy was told not to trust foxes but decides to give the guy a break, only having it backfire in the process. This “not trusting foxes” thought process is littered over the film, and for good reason, especially in the case of Nicholas later on.
Back in the office, Judy volunteers to look for an otter’s missing husband. The only piece of evidence she gets is a clue that leads right back to the fox, so Judy uses her wits against his in order to crack the case. The two start to become friends, but a startling discovery causes a rift that only Judy can solve.
Zootopia, on surface level, is cute. The “animals as humans” visuals can really be funny, and the directors/animators use that to their benefit, such as showing how gerbils get to work or how giraffes get beverages. There’s even a whole town of little creatures driving around and shopping.
The movie is clever even beyond those jokes, even so far as to rename brands to accompany an animal name (Casio becomes “Catsio,” Macy’s turns into “Mousey’s”). In addition, there’s a super quick jab a Disney musicals, Disney animated film bootlegs, and a really, really subtle Breaking Bad reference. Not since Wreck-It Ralph has the studio worked so hard to put in all these little gags.
Oh, and the sloths. They still kill me.
Once we move away from all that though, Zootopia really keeps the laughs at bay in honor of moving the story forward. Keep in mind(quoting Jason Bateman/Michael Bluth from Arrested Development), I have no problem with that. However, parents might find their child tossing and turning in their seat at points if Judy and Nicholas talking aren’t enough for them.
Judy’s main goal is to find out what happened to the missing person, and so we follow them, searching for clues, asking questions, and finding answers. Realistically, Zootopia is no different than an episode of Law and Order (Paw and Order?), only with a lot more fur.
That’s ok, though! I found myself really intrigued with the plot and there wasn’t a period where I was checking my watch due to boredom. Honestly, I could’ve used a few more laughs but that’s my only major gripe here. I have to applaud Zootopia for doing something different, and succeeding with that. The movie itself is original, and to its credit, unpredictable. Who can say we’ve had a film like that recently? I’m not even praising the film because it is unique; it serves us an interesting story with engaging characters that stands on its own two (or sometimes four) feet, and that’s really something.
Also, it’s not a kids’ movie. On the surface, yeah, maybe it is. At closer look, though, the movie demonstrates a supreme understanding of class issues, race issues, depression, defeat, not fitting in, and having your dreams crushed. Pretty deep for an animated film.
However, the crew balances all of that extremely well and delivers it in a gorgeously animated film that more people need to see. Zootopia was an extreme surprise and I loved it. This film is wild, indeed.
Zootopia is out of its cage and in theaters now
Logan J. Fowler is a senior writer and video game editor on Pop-Break.com. He contributes his thoughts every week for Trailer Tuesday and ABC’s The Goldbergs.” Logan’s “kid at heart” nature has led to his discussion about pop culture that many geeks love to talk about, including superheroes, Super Mario Bros., Pixar, and Muppets, among other things. In addition, one of his first pieces for the site, “Top Ten Comic Book Movies,” was picked as a “Freshly Pressed” piece by WordPress and remains one of the site’s most well-read articles. Many of Logan’s friends have said that he moonlights as Spider-Man but this is so not true. Wait, are those police sirens I’m hearing?! Gotta go! -thwipp-