Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman headline Disney’s latest excellent animated achievement
WATCH THE TRAILER HERE:
KEY VOICE CAST MEMBERS: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, J.K. Simmons, Jenny Slate, Nate Torrence, Bonnie Hunt, Don Lake, Tommy Chong, Octavia Spencer, Maurice LaMarche Shakira, Raymond S. Persim Alan Tudyk and Phil Johnston
Fast-forward 15 years after a life-changing incident and a now adult Jenny has overcome the odds to achieve her dream … Only to quickly learn that life as a police officer that also happens to be a bunny is not as glamorous or great as she imagined it would be. A little down as the case may be, she decides to do a good deed for someone who, by nature, should be her natural enemy: Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman), a fox who turns out to be quite sly as his species’ reputation would have you believe. But while Nick gets the better of Jenny at first, she quickly turns the tables on him, forcing him to help her with a big case to impress her boss Chief Bogo (Idris Elba) at the risk of getting fired: Discovering what happened to Mr. Otterton, a mild-manner florist who, like several other mammals in Zootopia, has mysteriously disappeared.
But once Jenny and Nick start going down the rabbit hole, what the predator-and-prey friends discover is bigger than either could have ever imagined …
SO, IS IT GOOD, BAD OR ABSOLUTELY AWFUL? With a good amount of pop culture-related humor, plays on traditional roles (for both people and within the animal world) and that trademark movie magic of a life lesson that is stated in the beginning and comes together fully in the final act, Zootopia is Disney’s finest non-Pixar related outings in years and one audiences of all ages will enjoy.
Whereas Zootopia looks rich and complete as the thriving “what if the world was run by animals?” metropolis its creative team intended to deliver, the characters are truly brought to life by the film’s cast with Goodwin and Bateman leading the way. As Jenny Hopps and Nick Wilde respectively, Goodwin and Bateman have a great vocal chemistry that makes the film, building what goes from a true rivalry to a friendship that compliments each other and feels as natural as can be despite nature’s setup. Whereas Goodwin truly makes Jenny a well-rounded character struggling to find her place in the world while remaining endearing, funny, smart and inspiring for little boys and girls alike, Bateman crafts a nice, snarky yet hard not to appreciative smart guy out of what could have easily become a one note or forced character.
That’s not to suggest they are the only stars in the film; far from it, in fact. Whereas Elba is sadly limited to just being Jenny’s huff-and-puff boss, Jenny Slate shines as the constantly put-upon vice-mayor Bellweather as does Tommy Chong as ultra-hippie and clueless spa owner Yax. All the characters fit well within the world directors Byron Howard and Rich Moore craft, delivering action sequences totally appropriate for the worlds it explores while making you want to explore it further.
Likewise, the self-referential jokes work well while being kid-friendly but loaded with more adults sensibility than one might imagine for a PG-rated Disney flick. (Let’s just say there’s a not-so-subtle reference to a very popular TV show that recently ended that has spawned a prequel on AMC that fits into the story so well you might miss it. And that’s not the only one in the movie.) Conventions of police departments and cop movies are broken down, the idea of what it means to fight your limitations are explored well … And if you know someone that collects Funko Pop! figures, expect them to want a Flash, Mr. Big or Clawhauser one soon due to a silly/cuteness factor that continues to bridge the gap between kid movie/adult friendly animated movie.
Throw in a well-constructed plot twist, an actually interesting story and a general, true sense of fun and Zootopia is a great 3D experience. If you don’t like that, perhaps you ought to be spayed and neutered since your sense of enjoyment at the movies already is. Yup, that’s how good Zootopia is.