It is no secret that I love watching movies, and it is definitely no secret that I love Disney movies, as I am a bonafide Disney kid. There are many movies that I do love, but it is rare that I fall head-over-heels for a movie, just like I have for Disney’s “Zootopia”.
When this film came out early this year, I dismissed it, thinking that it would be a miss, just like “The Good Dinosaur”, which I ended up not watching as I had heard that it was not as good as it was hoped to be. So, that, coupled with the fact that I was extremely busy at that point in time, made me miss the film entirely, which, now, after finally managing to watch the film, I wholeheartedly regret.(Hey, better too late than never, right?)
Disney has definitely done it again with a powerful story about prejudice, with a great soundtrack, a great script, characters that I absolutely loved, and gorgeously stunning animation.
To put it mildly, I have never wanted to be an animal character this bad since I watched “The Lion King” in the movie house when it first came out. (Since I was a kid back then, I came home from that movie desperately wanting to be a lion like Simba or Nala. Now, I just want to be Judy Hopps.) Also, this is the first time since I watched the original “Star Wars” trilogy as a pre-teen that I have fallen head-over-heels in love with a movie.
Just like every great Disney film, this film made me feel a kid again, full of wonder and excitement about the world that was unfolding in front of my very eyes. However, not only was it full of warmth and heart, but it gave me “the feels” as well, as there were scenes in which I just began unashamedly tearing up.
In a nutshell, Disney struck gold with “Zootopia”, as not only was it visually stunning, and a great movie, but it struck all the notes it meant to, and gave children a new pair of unlikely heroes and role models to look up to- a female who defied the odds, but never lost her cheerfulness, charm, femininity, and did not need a prince in shining armor to save her; and a clever fox, who is also, not the typical, stereotypical fox that one would think that he would be.
With that aside, let’s now dive deep into spoiler territory.
SPOILERS AHEAD FOR “ZOOTOPIA”! (However, I am pretty sure that most have seen this film already).
First off, I would love to ask Disney why their foxes are actually, weirdly enough, good looking. Just think of it- there was Robin Hood, then Todd from “The Fox and the Hound”, and then Nicholas P. Wilde from “Zootopia”.
Also, among all of the Disney foxes, Nick, as he is a con artist, is probably the slickest, slyest, and most clever fox that I have ever seen on screen, but that is just all part of his charm.
Having him as the sidekick in the film was a very smart move for Disney to make, as it allowed them to reverse roles and tropes a little bit, by making Judy Hopps, a rabbit, the protagonist, and the one who is a little bit more powerful and dominant in that partnership.
Disney’s rabbits have also always been amazing, ever since the days of “Bambi”. However, Officer Judy Hopps has now become my favorite Disney rabbit in the whole pantheon of Disney Animated Films, and yes, I prefer Judy over Thumper.
As I mentioned earlier, I love how Judy started out as naiive and idealistic, but thanks, in part to Nick, managed to catch up quickly in outsmarting him. And, at the end, after everything was done and over with, she still managed to still retain her cheerfulness and her hope, while being a little wiser and at the same time, not overly jaded about life.
The colors and the characters in the movie were masterfully done, and each joke, pun and parody that they had really made me smile and laugh- from Mr. Big being a parody of “The Godfather’s” Don Corleone, to the sloth at the DMV, to the “Breaking Bad” reference, to the Mystic Oasis, to Nick’s initial hustle’s that Judy witnessed, to not so subtle “Frozen” and to other Disney movie references.
The animation in the film was top notch, especially as this is not a Disney/PIXAR film, although it was produced by John Lasseter. Each strand of hair on their coats, and every detail was spot on, up to the minutest detail, such as the little wrinkles that occur in Nick’s snout. The slow motion that they did for the sloths was awesome as well, and that moment provided a well done moment of comic relief that never gets old. (Admit it, many, such as myself, wanted to see this film because of the sloths).
The cast was masterfully chosen, as each character, from Idris Elba’s authoritative presence as Chief Bogo, Ginnifer Goodwin’s idealistic Judy Hopps, Jason Bateman’s slick Nick Wilde, Shakira’s Gazelle, Nick Torrence’s cheerful and warm Benjamin Clawhauser, all the way to Maurice LaMarche’s ”The Godfather” inspired Mr. Big.
As every Disney movie does, it tugged at my heartstrings and managed to evoke every emotion that the movie wanted me to feel at that moment.
That train ride that Judy took from Bunnyburrow to Zootopia was breathtakingly gorgeous, coupled with an amazing song provided by Shakira herself, who portrayed a version of herself called Gazelle. Seeing the different habitats roll by gave me a sense of wonder, very much akin to what Judy felt on that train ride, and I especially loved it when she passed by the Rainforest habitat.
In the end, however, this movie, at its core, is a move about prejudice and stereotypes, which, aside from the parodies on racial slurs and stereotypes, was, for me, made even clearer during the flashback scene in which Nick was narrating to Judy as to why he is the way that is now. Because he was bullied for wanting to be a Boy Scout, in a troop that consisted mostly of prey, who decided to put a muzzle on him during initiation.
That really made me feel bad, as I automatically connect muzzles to that scene in “Lady and the Tramp”, in which Lady was forced to wear a muzzle, something that I feel is just totally cruel.
After that, I felt even worse when Nick realized that Judy is still afraid of foxes in general, and gave back the police academy application form back to her.
In the beginning of the film, I also felt bad when Judy first realized, through Nick, that life in Zootopia is not as wonderful as she hoped it to be, because, let’s face it, we have all been there, and we have all come out from it being stronger and better than before.
I loved the action sequences, and although the villain was not the best, it did not really hurt the plot at all, in my humble opinion.
In the end, this film is a perfect, modern Disney film for both children and adults with great characters, stunning visuals, story, and a universal and timeless message that that will never grow old.
Disney has definitely done it again, and it is no wonder why this film is the second highest grossing film of the year, and will probably be in my top ten favorite films of the year.