Disney Animation Studio has just celebrated ten years under the management of
John Lasseter and Ed Catmull of Pixar. In that time, these creative leaders
have encouraged their team to try new ideas and the results have been admirably
diverse. That’s why Zootopia doesn’t
look or feel like any other Disney cartoon feature. Its directors have
described it as a cross between L.A.
Confidential and a Richard Scarry book. However you describe it, it’s
singular and highly entertaining.
The heroine is
a bright, sunny-natured bunny rabbit named Judy Hopps whose dream is to make
the world a better place. Refusing to be discouraged, she leaves her parents’
carrot farm to become a police officer in the multifaceted metropolis of
Zootopia. There she finds that, despite her stellar efforts at the police
academy, she’s relegated to the role of meter maid—until she encounters a sly
fox named Nick Wilde, who opens her eyes to the criminal element of Zootopia.
is not your “typical” Disney movie. (There’s even a joke or two at the expense
of Frozen.) The story is much more dense
and complex, and the emotional journey is challenging for Judy and the roguish Nick.
Young children may be confused or even scared by some of the darker elements of
the story, which is why it’s properly rated PG and not G.
Zootopia has a lot on its mind. Credited
screenwriters Jared Bush and Phil Johnston and directors Rich Moore (Wreck-It Ralph) and Byron Howard (Tangled) aren’t making an out-and-out
message movie, but they do want their viewers to think while they’re being
entertained. Kids will readily recognize the story points about bullying,
stereotyping, and acceptance.
At the same
time, Zootopia is beautifully
designed and brimming with genuinely funny gags. And it’s anchored by two
irresistibly likable, relatable characters, voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin and
Jason Bateman. They lead us on a wholly unpredictable adventure set in the
animal world but reflective of our own existence. As I say, this isn’t like any
Disney movie you’ve seen before… but that’s precisely why Zootopia is so disarming.