PG | 108 min | Animation, Action, Adventure
Review - Matt Mungle
**In theaters March 4th 2016**
Synopsis: In a city of anthropomorphic animals, a fugitive con artist fox and a rookie bunny cop must work together to uncover a conspiracy.
Review: Disney continues to up its game in the animation world with their latest laugh out loud fur fest, ZOOTOPIA. Smart writing, clever twists on the animal kingdom, and a a perfect balance of adult and kid humor make this a stand out flick.
Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) is a bunny trying to her best to break out of the stereotypes of her carrot farming family. She joins the police academy - to the humor of almost everyone but her worrisome parents - works hard to graduate, and joins the Zootopia police force. Her first assignment is far from the crime fighting excitement she had expected. No one takes her seriously and she begins to doubt her own capabilities. Her big break comes when Chief Bogo (Idris Elba) offers her an impossible task. Solve it and she is on her way to the big league. Fail and it is back to the farm for her.
There is much depth to the story and character dynamics but at the same time these are anthropomorphic animals; so it is all in grand scale, tongue-in-cheek fun. If you have seen any of the DMV scenes with the Sloths you know exactly the kind of humor expounded on here. Hopps has to enlist the help of Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) a street wise fox who, in his own way, is trying to break down the barriers of how his kind is perceived. Can predator and prey co-mingle together in peace or will thousands of years of instinct and evolution destroy that harmony?
Zootopia itself is a wonderful landscape of zones and climates. Hopps and Nick visit each one in search of clues to the mystery put before them. Some places are very posh while others are seedy and referred to as the furry, underbelly of society. That is the sort of humor and wit that season the script to near perfection. Parents and children will trade off laughter as they each are offered jokes and antics that cover a wide age spectrum.
Adults will appreciate the crime drama that has a nostalgic feel of early cop shows. Each animal has enough human personality that you can easily get into the story and dialogue. References to popular gangster movies and pop culture icons adds fuel to the hilarity. Kids as young as three will simply love the vivid colors and funny animals. They are at times silly and, well, quite animated. But not enough that older adults feel slighted or cheated.
The message too is fresh. Normally with animated animal tales it is a preachy sermon about the environment or climate and habitat changes. This one is truly relatable to humans of all ages. It is about believing in yourself and those around you. Putting aside any preconceived prejudices or expectations. Rising above your past failures and insecurities and tackling the job at hand. But again it is very subtle and not heavy handed. It organically happens as the story unfolds which makes it lighthearted.
ZOOTOPIA is rated PG for some thematic elements, rude humor and action. Those under five might hide their eyes during some of the more intense action. The larger animals can come off as ferocious when angry. The rudeness is quite tame. If you can't find humor and sarcasm in an animal nudist group - news alert all animals are naturally naked - then you might have a moment of eye rolling while the rest of us crack up. Everything is wall to wall laughs for all ages. I give it 4 out of 5 Starskey and Hutches. Such a fun time at the theater with an inspiring message as a bonus.
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