“Zootopia” Review

Mar 8, 2016 | Animated Classics, Films, Reviews

As a life-long fan of the Walt Disney movies as much as Disneyland park, I’d like to include more about the films – new and old, animated and live-action – on this blog. A few thoughts on Zootopia, Disney’s biggest animated film opening this past weekend, seemed like the perfect way to start, especially following a post about the Disney Movie Club.

I’ve been looking forward to Zootopia since seeing the trailer before Inside Out, and laughing so hard at the sloths trailer that my cheeks ached. The Bug’s Land theatre in California Adventure also featured an extended preview of the movie to which everyone in the audience seemed to respond really well. There’s something special about hearing an entire audience cracking up along with you, and after that first trailer and the in-park preview, I was super excited about seeing this in theatres.

With already high expectations, raised even more by seeing the fantastic Rotten Tomatoes percentage beforehand, I wondered if this movie could really live up to the hype and not disappoint in some way. Personally, I thought this was yet another thoroughly enjoyable movie and I’m really glad it was one I saw in theatres instead of waiting for the home media release.

As a huge fan of mysteries and L.A. Noir, there was almost no way I wasn’t going to enjoy the story. I also love that long after The Great Mouse Detective, we get another entry into the Disney canon that features “animals running around in tiny clothes” (stated by the great John Lasseter) solving a missing persons mammals case. The mystery was well plotted for adults to enjoy, but simple enough that children can follow and understand too.

Zootopia is also a great buddy film and its main characters are fast becoming two of my favorite characters in the Disney canon. Ginnifer Goodwin, who I love watching as the beautiful and eternally optimistic Snow White/Mary Margaret on “Once Upon a Time,” is perfect as the adorably earnest Judy Hopps. Jason Bateman is the perfect foil, smirky and sarcastic while incredibly likable, and he keeps things grounded, saving the film from becoming too saccharine.

Talking about these two characters leads me to probably the most discussed point of the film, which is the social commentary in the story as presented by a world in which a fox and bunny can be best friends, and predators and prey live together, more or less in harmony. The film was not subtle in its teaching of the dangers of “Us versus Them” mentality, a lesson clearly laid out in understandable terms for kids, and a perhaps necessary reminder for some adults. Though real world social commentary is outside the scope of what I want for this blog, so that’s all I’ll say about Disney films and their Life Lessons.

With the box office success and its current newness, I’m hoping/expecting to see a good presence in the parks. I have a special place in my heart for Critter Country and would love to see some life and novelty injected into the area, and I think Zootopia has great potential to do so (though I don’t hold my breath for that kind of thing).

Obviously I’m incredibly enthusiastic about this film. While it is, as always, great for kids, it offers so much for adults. The pop culture references to The Godfather, “Breaking Bad,” and so much more were fantastic. It’s really a richly detailed and layered movie that should be even better after repeated viewings – though I say those only because I want to see it again, not because I’ve already seen it multiple times.

If you’ve seen the movie, I’d love to know what you thought of it! What were your favorite parts? Any dislikes? How do you think it stacks up against other new and old Disney releases?

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