‘Zootopia’ is an Odd But Endearing Disney Animated Film

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Average: 5 (1 vote)
HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.0/5.0
Rating: 4.0/5.0

CHICAGO – Walt Disney Studio’s latest animated extravaganza is best viewed as a child’s introduction to the buddy cop movie, since you can’t exactly start a toddler on “Midnight Run” or “Lethal Weapon 2.” But in this case it’s a bunny cop movie.

It centers on the unlikely mismatched pairing of a bunny and a fox as they try to solve a mystery and a conspiracy that may lead all the way to the top “Zootopia” takes place in a world where all animals, both predators and prey, live together in relative harmony.

Officer Hopp in ‘Zootopia’
Photo credit: Walt Disney Pictures

The city is broken up into neighborhoods with names like Tundra Town (take three guesses who lives here and I bet you don’t need two of them). They each have their cliques, and species. Our main character is Officer Hopp (voice of Ginnifer Goodwin), a young bunny who has dreamed of becoming a police officer since she was a kid growing up on a carrot farm. She achieves her dreams through what can best be described as an affirmative action program to add diversity of species on the force.

Hopp is just the type of plucky do gooder you’d expect in a Disney movie. She’s resilient, and out to make a difference even though she encounters skepticism, prejudice and obstacles at every step of the way. She’s even forced to overcome a few prejudices of her own when she enlists the help of con artist fox named Nick (Jason Bateman). Hopp and Nick team up to find a missing predator who vanished, but their investigation becomes much much more than just a simple missing person case.

The plot is something we’ve seen a hundred times before, but “Zootopia” is constantly packing little gags into the margins. It’s by no means the laugh a minute factory that “The Lego Movie” was, but it’s go so many blink and you’ll miss them visual gags – I think I only caught about half of them. One gag you’re sure not to miss is the sloths. They’ve been played up extensively in the trailers, and surprisingly I found it still amusing even though I’d seen almost the entire scene already.

Hopp, Nick and Flash the Sloth in ‘Zootopia’
Photo credit: Walt Disney Pictures

Hopp and Nick won’t go down as a buddy team for the ages, but they’re serviceable enough. The voice of Idris Elba is suitably menacing as a real bull of a police captain, but I felt that the great J.K. Simmons was essentially wasted. Why cast Simmons at all if you’re not going to use him?

All in all though I enjoyed “Zootopia” far more than this team’s previous collaborations, “Big Hero 6” and “Frozen.” While “Zootopia” is unlikely to become the unstoppable force that “Frozen” was, it’s a pretty good entry in the Disney canon – and my four year-old twins liked it too, so I consider that a success.

”Zootopia” opens everywhere on March 4th. Featuring the voices of Ginnifer Goodwin, J.K. Simmons, Jason Bateman, Bonnie Hunt, Idris Elba, Jenny Slate, Tommy Chong and Octavia Spencer. Screenplay by Jared Bush and Phil Johnston. Directed by Byron Howard, Rich Moore and Jared Bush. Rated “PG

HollywoodChicago.com contributor Spike Walters


© 2016 Spike Walters, HollywoodChicago.com

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