Zootopia – film review

"Zootopia" theatrical teaser poster.
“Zootopia” theatrical teaser poster.
When I saw the first trailer for Zootopia, I wasn’t sure how much I would like it. That trailer really didn’t give any indication of the plot of the film, and while the trailer was amusing, I’ve been disappointed by films with amusing trailers in the past. Luckily, I didn’t need to worry.

Judy Hopps (played by Ginnifer Goodwin, Snow White from Once Upon a Time) is an energetic bunny (is there any other kind?) from the farm town of Bunnyburrow, and she has big dreams. Judy plans to be the very first bunny police officer in Zootopia, a glittering city which acts as a peaceful melting pot of predators and prey alike, where “anyone can be anything!” No one else seems to share her vision, however, not even her parents. This could have been depressing, but it somehow worked.

After a lot of hard work, she passes the exams at the police academy and starts her job at ZPD, ready to do her part to make a difference. She is instead assigned as a meter maid. While on duty, she is hustled by a wily fox named Nick (Jason Bateman), which causes her to start to lose her beaming optimism. The next day, she hustles Nick into helping her solve a crime within the 48 hours given to her by Chief of Police Bogo.

The music by Michael Giacchino, and the theme sung by Shakira, work really well in setting the mood all through Zootopia. Despite simple lyrics, Shakira turns “Try Everything” into a toe-tapping pop song that is likely to become your next earworm. I really wish more of her music was like this song. The soundtrack is excellent.

The animators did a fantastic job. All of the character and environment details in Zootopia were miles ahead of the amazing work done in Frozen or Tangled. Almost all the characters had hair or fur of some kind, with some of the character models having millions of individual hairs. And. It. All. Looked. Real. The animators for each successive Disney animated film are truly standing on the shoulders of those before them. Did I mention how fantastic a job they did? I was really blown away by the details—and there were too many to count.

The screenplay by Jared Bush and Phil Johnston worked really well, and had a few twists and turns that I didn’t see coming. Byron Howard and Rich Moore did an excellent job directing the film, and the end result was nothing short of magical. The pacing was smooth through the entire film. I wish more films could nail it like Zootopia.

One of my favorite parts was all the easter eggs. Nods and homages were everywhere: product names, store and shop names, books and films, references to all kinds of Disney films and cameos by several characters from even more of them. I thought I had noticed most of them until I read a few blog posts detailing a bunch more that I had missed. You would have to go through frame-by-frame to catch all of them. I love it when animators do things like this.

Zootopia was simply excellent. I enjoyed every minute of it every time I saw it in theaters (and I’ll be seeing it a few more times). My only disappointment was a lack of an animated short at the beginning of the film (I have really enjoyed Disney and Pixar doing this for the last several years). In my running ranking of animated Disney films, this tops the list as my favorite non-musical as well as my overall favorite. Disney has really been hitting it out of the park lately, and I look forward to their next release.

Release Date: March 4, 2016 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG
Language: English

MySF Rating: Five point zero stars
Family Friendliness: 100%


Alcohol/Drugs: 0
Language: 1 (very rare and very mild)
Nudity: 0 (other than the animal “nudist” colony)
Sexuality: 0 (other than Gazelle and her dancers)
Violence: 2 (a number of scary situations, feral animal attacks, humorous threats of “icing”)

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