In a world where many low-risk and unimaginative children’s movies such as “Minions” are churned out constantly, a kids' film that manages to incorporate meaningful lessons and smart humor, to be enjoyed by children and adults alike, is refreshing.
Disney's latest box-office hit, “Zootopia,” is that refreshing film. "Zootopia" takes place in a world of humanized mammals where the largest predator and the smallest prey live together. When Judy Hopps becomes the city of Zootopia’s first rabbit police officer, she realizes that her fellow officers look down at her because she is the smallest animal there. Hopps seizes the opportunity to prove herself as a cop when a mysterious case is brought to the police. With the unlikely help of Nick Wilde, a con-artist fox, Hopps sets out to get to the bottom of the case in order to keep her dream job.
The modern 3D animation style that many Disney films have adopted has never looked better than in “Zootopia.” From the large, detailed shots of the city and its various sections to the action scenes and sight gags involving different animals' sizes, the animation is always beautiful and clean. The characters' facial expressions alone portray more emotion and realism than nearly any other animated film I have seen — considering that the characters are animals, this is an impressive accomplishment.
Equally as impressive as the animation style is the movie's writing. Because of incredibly smart writing, an adult can have just as much fun as a child when watching this film. “Zootopia” has a charming and funny cast of characters that are bound to be the theme of many kids' birthday parties in 2016, but its sly references to pop culture and subtle jokes are sure to keep older viewers laughing as well. Aiding the funny and clever script was the convincing voice acting of Ginnifer Goodwin from “Once Upon a Time” as Hopps and Jason Bateman from “Arrested Development” as Wilde. Bateman and Goodwin pulled off their characters' contrasting personalities wonderfully, making for many memorable scenes of dialogue.
What stood out the most to me about “Zootopia” is how in touch it is with the reality of today. In this funny world full of talking animals, characters use iPhones, drive cars, deal with noisy neighbors, chase careers and face issues of identity and stereotyping. With this movie, Disney made a statement on today’s society, but did so in a way that doesn’t feel like a lecture. “Zootopia” teaches valuable lessons about modern social issues such as racial profiling and prejudice to children and adults alike and does so in the best possible way — humor.
Children today grow up with technology and the Internet in ways that no other generation has, and they are facing all new social environments. Because of the way it incorporates elements of modern culture, “Zootopia” feels like a Disney movie made for the children of today that will resonate with them in the same way that old Disney classics have for past generations.
In truth, finding something wrong with Disney’s newest offering is difficult. Some might argue that the film laid its message on a little too thick, but I think it was done with remarkable taste and care. I only hope that “Zootopia” is a sign of things to come for animated films as a whole and that we continue to see the same level of style, imagination and heart put into future projects.