Zootopia: You Can Be Anything You Want

Life’s a little bit messy. We all make mistakes. No matter what type of animal you are, change starts with you. 

My mistake was waiting so long to post this one. Sorry about that, but hey, change starts with me!

I normally find it to be in bad taste when I don’t come up with my own title for a movie review. The whole reason I started doing that was to force myself to try and think of something catchy and original (even if they wind up being dull and played out). So why did I renege on that pledge for a film featuring a plethora of furry animals? To put it simply, I think that Zootopia summed itself up better than I ever could. And what is it, you may ask?

It’s another astonishingly thoughtful and finely crafted animated movie from Disney, with characters that adults will connect with more than their kids.

From the moment that Walt Disney introduced us to his pal named Mickey, his company has staked its reputation on making all of our dreams come true. It’s no accident that Disney’s characters are always so optimistic that they can reach their goals, even while the rest of the world snickers and tells them to give up. Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin), determined to be the first bunny police officer in Zootopia, is not unique in that regard. I’ve seen so many underdog heroes defy the odds in Disney movies that it’s not exactly going out on a limb to say that she’s going to prove all her naysayers wrong. What’s important is how she gets there, and whether or not that hero’s journey feels earned.

That I can even have heightened expectations for an animated feature is a credit to Disney for the roll its been on the last few years. Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen and Big Hero 6 were all super accessible and surprisingly meaningful films and Zootopia keeps that train rolling right along. When Judy arrives in Zootopia and is promptly dismissed by the rest of the Police Force,  she takes matters into her own hands before running into Nick Wilde (Bateman).Seeing as Nick is a fox, Judy’s instincts tell her to be cautious, but she has to work with him. What a dilemma.

The trick in making a good movie for the whole family is to make sure there are enough laughs and thrills on the surface to entertain the kids, then carefully place things for the adults to notice. Zootopia has the comic relief and and briskly paced action working for it, but then it will sneak in mature themes and references. Racism. Murder. Searching for your purpose in life.  Judy has to do more than just be a good cop. She also has to look past her own limited worldview to truly understand people. More importantly, her own biases and prejudices must be set aside, and that’s not always easy to do. Animation is at its best when it combines that carefree innocence of our childhood along with the stern realities of our present. The fact that Judy and Nick’s playful, buddy cop relationship teeters so gingerly over the precipice of society is a testament to the writing and the layers that we get from these characters. Do I even have to say if Judy earns her hero’s journey or not?

If it weren’t for Deadpool being so abrasive and appealing, Zootopia would be my favorite movie of the year so far. I didn’t expect that, but I also didn’t always expect the Broncos to win the Super Bowl this year. Like the old saying goes, good things can happen when you least expect it.

Jesse’s Rating: A

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