Millions of years ago, in a world without humans, predators and prey evolved out of their hunting and gathering ways, abandoned their adversarial relationship, and built a modern civilization of peace and cooperation together. Zootopia is a major city in this anthropomorphic world, and serving on its police force is the dream of one small country rabbit, Judy Hopps. Against all odds, and through hard work and determination, she manages to accomplish her dream and joins the force.
Despite her accomplishments, she finds that her struggles aren’t over. The captain of the police doesn’t have any faith in her abilities and assigns her to meter-maid duty. She reluctantly carries out her assignment until she witnesses a robbery in action. Abandoning her post, she chases and arrests him, but when she returns to the station the chief berates her and goes to fire her when an otter arrives asking desperately for help finding her missing husband. Judy volunteers to take the case and the assistant mayor, who shows up at the station fortuitously, is pleased.
The chief is frustrated, but to allows Judy to take the case under the condition that if she doesn’t solve it in forty-eight hours she will turn in her badge and leave the force. From here, Judy, with the aid of a fox con artist named Nick Wilde, goes on an investigation that takes many twist and turns, and they find themselves at the center of a problem much bigger than they had ever suspected.
From watching the trailers, the film would immediately appear to be for children, what with all the anthropomorphic creatures and jokes. It’s not that this is entirely wrong. There are plenty of jokes, and the world is indeed full of animated anthropomorphic creatures, which does lend itself to the enjoyment of a kid audience. However, the film has much more to offer than that.
In many ways, the film is just as much aimed at adults as it is children. A lot of the humor is directed at elements of the adult world, and they will get the most out of the jokes and the clever sight gags. The plot is much more mature than your typical children’s film, and the characterization is far more nuanced. More than that, the film deals with complex social issues like sexism and racism in clever ways while managing to avoid feeling preachy, which could have sunk the whole movie.
So, in short, this film is for everyone except people who either hate animation or anthropomorphic animals. That is to say this film is for almost everyone except stick-in-the-muds.
“Zootopia” is easily the best animated film this year, and probably for the last several years. I feel that it matches a lot of Pixar’s most recent work, even if it doesn’t quite match the pure magic of Pixar’s best. The plot is very well done with genuine mysteries and surprises, all of which make sense and fit together in a cohesive whole. The characters are loveable and complex, and they can make mistakes and hurt and forgive each other. The humor is witty. The world is thoroughly realized and gorgeous. The music is good and fits well. On top of all these things, which would have already made for a fine film, “Zootopia” manages to fit in sharp social commentary that not only doesn’t distract or detract from the characters and plot, but rather is an integral part of both.
In other words, “Zootopia” is…
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