Zootopia is a fun film that uses animation and jokes to provide a lesson on race, prejudice, segregation, bullying and political corruption all thinly veiled in the world of cartoon animals. Certainly more than what you'd expect from an animated film from Walt Disney Animation Studios. Or is it?
The subject matter is quite timely considering the state of current events. Maybe I'm looking too much into the plot, but when there are jokes about "that's our word," I think it is safe to jump to the conclusion there is more behind the joke than a basic "be nice to everyone" message you'd expect from a Disney fairy tale. Zootopia tells a great story and that alone should place this film amongst the best. The story transcends, like Inside Out, and goes beyond what is expected from an animated feature film. Just because it is animated, doesn't mean that a beautiful, important story can't be told.
Zootopia doesn't run through the rollercoaster of emotions that is Inside Out or say a movie like Up does, those are different movies. A lot less tears were shed in this film. But it is great for other reasons. It does provide a nice underdog story that sets off to prove that "the little guy" can win. Spoiler alert in life: The little guy almost always wins in these type of stories.
There are plenty of gags throughout the film, as you'd expect in a film like this. The sloths running the DMV should have you chuckling through every bit and will have you dreading your next trip to get your driver license renewed. There's a scene in Zootopia where a character is hocking bootleg DVDs, keep an eye out for some of the titles, they're punny.
Zootopia is a place where animals have jumped a few levels of evolution, they can walk upright, talk and even wear clothes, sans one scene where our main characters make a trip to an animal nudist colony. Obviously a naked animal is a regular animal, but therein lies the humor.
Judy Hopp (Ginnifer Goodwin) is the main character in Zootopia, she's a bunny, from Bunny Burrows of course. She wishes to grow up one day to be a police officer to help people. A noble profession, though her entire life she's told this dream is insane and not attainable on account of her being a bunny. For historical reference, there's never been a bunny officer in the history of the Zootopia Police Department.
Though, through an outreach program, Judy makes it through the police academy and eventually hired on to the ZPD with much assistance through the mayor's office, much to the disappointment by the Chief Bogo, he's a giant cape buffalo (labels aside). Judy arrives in Zootopia with dreams of changing the world, only to find out she's been assigned parking duty, meter maid to be a bit blunt.
Judy befriends a sly fox that goes by the name Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) who is looking for his next scheme. Though, we find out Nick too is a product of prejudicial stereotypes who embraces his fox persona after bullies convince him he's nothing more than a predatory animal.
Judy eventually needs the help of Nick to get access to the seedier side of Zootopia to help solve a missing persons (errr… animals?) case.
I'll stop with the rest of the story there, you'll want to watch the rest and I don't want to be the guy that gives away the ending to a film.
Zootopia is beautifully animated, using the Hyperion rendering system we saw in Big Hero 6 to build the world of Zootopia, one of the more beautiful features of Hyperion is the way light bounces around to feel more life-like features to the environment and characters. The animators took great care to create beautiful districts that resemble real life locales. For example, Tundratown: Russia, Sahara Square: Las Vegas, etc. The animators did a great job bringing these towns to life, and if Disney built these lands into theme park attractions I'd certainly visit.
As for the humor factor, there are lots of bits that will have you LOLing, and you can place Zootopia as one of the funniest films in recent memory. There's plenty to joke about and humor can also a nice tool to pick apart some serious issues.
Zootopia hits theaters Friday, March 4, 2017. This is pretty spectacular movie that I wasn't entirely sold on originally. It ranks really high on my list of animated films. Though, for the record, The Lion King still holds a very strong place in my heart. Go see Zootopia and change the world!
Disclaimer: Disney Infinity invited TechnoBuffalo to check out Disney Infinity 3.0 Next and screen Zootopia with Disney Infinity fans.
Check out the new Disney Infinity 3.0 characters from Zootopia, Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde.