After the success of “Inside Out” last year, I figured it would be a very long time before any other animated film came close.
In many ways, “Zootopia” is also an incredibly intelligent and creative film, though its purpose is for a different message—an important and relevant one that our society needs. Through its use of vibrant and clever animals of all species, “Zootopia” addresses issues between animals which could be easily equated to racism, misogyny, LGBT rights, drugs, and other relevant controversies or crises in our culture. It’s a colorful tale with a positive message, clever social awareness, and probably the greatest animated fox in all of cinematic history.
“Zootopia” takes place in a world where animals have evolved to such a high degree that predator and prey have come to live together in peace. Our protagonist, Judy Hopps, manages to become the first bunny cop in the city of Zootopia—because of course, all the cops are lions, rams, and other massive creatures. However, fear begins to break out in the elegantly vivid city of Zootopia, as predators begin to revert to their nature.
Officer Judy Hopps takes it upon herself to discover the cause of these violent and inexplicable regressions, meeting a sly and clever fox named Nick along the way. As a dry-humored con artist and with an endlessly sarcastic personality, Jason Bateman is just as charming and riotous as an animated fox in “Zootopia” as he is in the comedy series “Arrested Development,” or recent comedies such as “Horrible Bosses,” “Identity Thief,” and “Bad Words.”
“Zootopia” takes a brilliant plot and executes it with precision. Though a bit more catered for children than “Inside Out,” “Zootopia” is still primarily in the category of intellectual animated films, others being Wes Anderson’s “Fantastic Mr. Fox” (which coincidentally also features a charming fox) and the entire “Studio Ghibli” collection, my favorites being “Spirited Away,” “Ponyo,” “Howl’s Moving Castle,” and “My Neighbor Totoro.” It’s refreshing to see animated films with a positive and genuine message, particularly an intelligent one, and this is what makes “Zootopia” such a great success (as well as being the first best-animated film of the year). It is skillful and quick-witted when making metaphorical connections to our culture, filled with perfectly relentless stabs at racism and discrimination, and gut-wrenchingly funny characters. Best of all, it has a thoughtful and significant message that will impact both kids and adults, though adults will pick up on more of the subtleties.