By: John Delia
Last year’s Disney film Cinderella came out around the same time as this Friday’s release of Disney’s Zootopia. While Cinderella’s March release went on to make a massive amount of money for the mouse house, time will tell if an animated film directed to families will do the same. Certainly Zootopia has a good storyline with a message that it doesn’t matter who you are, you can make your dreams come true, “as long as you work hard to accomplish them.” With that in mind and an excellent voice cast too boot, the family film should start good out of the gate.
There’s a wonderful place called Zootopia where all animals live in harmony both predator and prey. Its Judy Hopps’s (voice Ginnifer Goodwin) goal to live and work there some day, but her chosen profession has her parents worried. She wants to be a police officer. Feared that being a rabbit she may be far from the strong and burly police that protect Zootopia, but her determination cannot be changed.
After getting through the police academy and with a lot of effort, she gets chosen by the Mayor of Zootopia to be the first rabbit police officer. But it’s not what Judy expected as Police Chief Bogo (voice Idris Elba) doesn’t thinks she’s officer material and she finds herself being a meter maid. One day she runs into a fox named Nick Wilde (voice Jason Bateman) who uses his flashy looks and charm to scam her. Not long after, Chief Bogo gets reports that the predators are starting to change back into their fearsome selves so he puts Judy on the case to try and break her so she’ll muster out.
So beings an adventure of trying to prove worthiness in the face of danger, friendship in the face of adversity and acceptance way beyond the boundaries of possibility. Directors Byron Howard (Tangled), Rich Moore (Wreck-it Ralph) and Jared Busch (Big Hero 6) team up to provide a rollicking good time in the animal world. Establishing very good characters and providing a challenging storyline that leads them in and out of peril, Zootopia entertains from 5-year-olds to adults with a little bit of child left in them.
The film also features the all-new original song, “Try Everything,” written by Grammy winning singer-songwriter Sia and songwriting duo Stargate and performed by Grammy winner Shakira. And what a song it is, winsome and energetic, the toe tapper starts the film swinging with the opening credits and the closing moments of the kid friendly movie. It’s one of those tunes that gets stuck in your head and will be humming for days. And Shakira voices Gazelle a night club singer as well. The vibrant score throughout the film was composed by Michael Giacchino, Oscar winner for Disney/Pixar’s Inside Out.
The animation in Zootopia is extremely good with the animals being depicted as if real. Their fur and skin, right down to the feet and hands, look so realistic. Personalities are expressed depending on the animal with kindly little old otters speaking meekly to slow moving sloths who take a lot of time to get a word out, burly bulls blustering to athletic giraffes. The city has towering sky scrapers, parks and run down back alleys that allow for the exciting adventure of being a cop in a crowded vibrant community.
Zootopia has been rated PG by the MPAA for some thematic elements, rude humor and action. There are some scary scenes that take place in the film where the very young may get frightened so keep them close to you so they can give you a hug. But most 5 or 6 years old and up should be able to laugh it off.
FINAL ANALYSIS: A fun family film with good messages all around. (A)