Everyone comes to Zootopia thinking they could be anything they want. But you can’t. You can only be what you are. Sly fox. Dumb bunny.
I am not a dumb bunny.
Zootopia is a triumph of something like epic proportions. It’s a wonderfully imagined story with wonderfully imagined characters and wonderfully imagined themes set in a wonderfully imagined world. The world Zootopia is set in is a brilliant, imaginative world of pure wonder; the city scape of Zootopia is a magical place, no question. The animation is startlingly beautiful, both in terms of the setting and the characters. Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde, our leading characters here, are incredibly expressive and very compelling as characters; much love to the great performances by an emotionally complicated Ginnifer Goodwin and a wry, sarcastic Jason Bateman. And the film pulls off a great feat by structuring itself around a sort of film noir mystery plot that is genuinely engaging. And the way the film uses its premise as a way to talk about race and diversity is absolutely genius, managing to get both hilarious jokes and real sadness out of the parallels between the animated Zootopia and our own real world. This element makes the film feel utterly and absolutely of the moment, urgent and visceral; but it also makes it feel somehow timeless, addressing as it does, with real cleverness and insight, these large issues. But the film is smart enough not to make it a one to one comparison. The film raises a lot of issues, but never pounds the pulpit or gets on the soapbox. And the film is compelling as a comedy, a thriller and a drama. The Mr. Big character is a joke we’ve all seen before, but the design on the character and the way the film just totally commits to the joke had me rolling on the floor practically every second he was on screen. Meanwhile, a rain-forest tree top chase scene plays as genuinely suspenseful and heart-pounding; the film wisely establishes very early that these aren’t the old school invincible cartoons, so we know that these characters can be hurt, even bleed. And the relationship between Judy and Nick feels absolutely real and there are some genuinely powerful moments, like a quiet conversation on a cable car and a rapprochement under a bridge. I will admit to getting a little misty a couple of times during this film. The movie really makes you care about the characters, which, I suppose, is why the rest of the film’s elements work as well as they do. And can I just throw one more thing out there? Maybe we’ve never needed as much as we do now a film about an idealistic police officer who genuinely wants to stand up for tolerance and help people. Look, cops, you’ve been taking some major PR hits and rightly so, but, look, we still WANT to believe in the people who wear the uniforms in our world. I feel like Judy’s proof of that. The cops can stand up for what’s right too and be what we want and need them to be. Regardless, this was a movie I only just got to seeing so I was pretty worried that I’d been overhyped for it and that maybe, as a result, I’d find the movie to be overrated. Not so. I’m not sure you CAN overhype this movie. It’s something really, really close to perfect, a movie of the moment that will stand the test of time. 4 stars.
tl;dr – animated masterpiece manages social commentary, hilarious comedy, real thrills and surprisingly compelling drama; top of the line in every single way. 4 stars.