Movie Review: Zootopia

By Nate Willis, Entertainment Writer 

Since acquiring Pixar Studios in 2006, Disney Animation has been able to crank out some high-quality animated features that are either on par or perhaps better than Pixar films. Disney’s “Zootopia” continues this trend with a message that is both powerful and highly relevant. Computer-animated films have gotten so good in the 21st century that the actual animation style isn’t even a focal point for most audiences any more.

“Zootopia” is a neo-noir comedy, engaging the audience’s attention by following our heroes from clue to clue. The two main characters are a spunky fresh-out-of-the-police-academy bunny named Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) and a scam-artist fox named Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman). The differences between these two characters are highlighted throughout, but, in classic Disney fashion, they eventually are able to work together to solve the case. Saying that they solve the case isn’t a spoiler, because all Disney films have happy endings because they have to cater to their primary audience (children).

Another staple of Disney films is the amount of adult humor present throughout. This isn’t uncommon with children’s films or shows (just go back and watch any cartoon from your childhood, you’ll catch a lot more adult humor), because the creators are adults themselves, but more importantly they don’t want to alienate an entire demographic. For example, several college kids will see (and enjoy) “Zootopia”, and that’s an entire demographic that otherwise would waste their time with a film like “Gods of Egypt” instead. Innuendos reduce the cheesiness of Disney films, hardening them up just enough to make this film funny for more than one type of moviegoer.

The message of this film is very relevant for today’s society. Zootopia is a city that exists in a world where predators and prey alike have evolved to coexist peacefully. The population of the city is explained to be 90% prey and 10% predator. The best part about this film is the continuation of the mystery once you think it’s already been solved. Once the initial mystery of the missing mammals is solved, a whole new conflict arises that causes the majority population to start treating the minority predators like second-class citizens. This situation arises out of fear, exacerbated by the Zootopian media. With fear-mongering as a common campaign tactic during this election season, this message felt all-too relevant.

Overall, I highly recommend seeing this film. It’s not only smart and funny, but also politically relevant. If you’re a fan of Disney or Pixar films, I’m sure you’ll appreciate this film on several levels. Even if animated films aren’t your favorite kind of films, it’s still smart enough to enjoy for the message alone.

Nate’s Netflix Picks:

  • Scarface
  • Unforgiven
  • City of God