Director: Byron Howard, Rich Moore
Cast: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, JK Simmons
Running Time: 108 Minutes
Bright, hilarious and surprisingly timely, Zootopia is an early frontrunner for next year’s Oscar for Best Animated Feature.
Ginnifer Goodwin is perfectly cast as Judy, a chipper bunny who dreams of being a police officer. Disrespected when she’s not being treated as a token presence, she gets a chance to prove herself when a missing persons (or animals) case stumps the rest of the force.
She teams up with Nick (Jason Bateman, also perfectly cast), a fox. Of course, foxes and bunnies are enemies since foxes tend to eat bunnies. So in addition to the “odd couple” aspect, the movie has a lot to say about overcoming prejudices to work together.
But it doesn’t stop there. Zootopia tackles not just personal prejudice, but institutional prejudice. The police force is content to discredit witnesses because of their species and underestimate “weaker” animals on the force.
If you’re seeing parallels to our human world, that’s intentional. Occasionally, the message about treating everyone with respect gets hit a few too many times in a very obvious way. Plus, it also doesn’t go all the way: Some animals are used to defy stereotypes, but others are used to reinforce them.
But whether or not it’s completely successful in that regard, it’s actually a solid cop movie, complete with exciting chase scenes, witty banter and double-crosses. It’s a got a solid framework and a great cast. It just feels like it’s a rewrite away from being something truly special.
It even makes some funny pop culture references, even if it’s confusing to have a character listen to R.E.M.’s “Everybody Hurts” on the radio, but have Shakira as a gazelle named Gazelle being the most popular singer in the world. And personally, I could have done without yet another homage to The Godfather, but I’m totally down with a kids movie referencing Shutter Island.
There’s a lot to love in Zootopia, which builds a fully realized world, lands almost all its jokes and teaches valuable lessons. It’s not perfect, but it does an extremely commendable job.