Zootopia: Oscar Winner Remains A Classic

Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde in Zootopia. Courtesy of Disney.

Disney’s Oscar-winning Zootopia remains a classic over four years following its theatrical release and holds up in viewing on Disney+.

In Zootopia, you can be anything you want to be.  Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) moves from Bunnyburrow for the chance at becoming a police officer.  Even though she’s the best in her class, the Zootopia Police Department assigns her traffic cop duties.  It’s not the most glamorous position for the first rabbit ever in the ZPD but she makes the best of it.  Through her position, Judy encounters a sly fox, Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman).  Just has been taught not to trust foxes but somehow, she sees some goo in him.  She soon learns that there’s more here than meets the eye.  When Mr. Otterton goes missing and Chief Bogo (Idris Elba) assigns the case, Judy cons Nick into working together in hopes of finding him.

Movies with talking animals are not new.  Many of the classic Disney films feature some of our favorite talking animals on screen.  It is in this spirit that Zootopia does not disappoint.  Though when it comes to a re-imagining that place animals where humans should be, the film is closely related to Robin Hood in spirit.  And no surprise here, both films feature foxes in the leading roles.

The film isn’t immune to the classic cliché of opposites attracting each other.  Don’t let your brain go there–I’m talking about a professional relationship!  In a city full of both prey and predators, Judy and Nick shouldn’t be working together.  However, animals have evolved and so this is life in Zootopia.  The film really examines the relationship between prey and predators.  Once a handful of predators start reverting to their native form, the city’s residents start erupting in protest.  Judy’s performance at a press conference did no favors in fueling the protests.  In fact, Jared Bush and Phil Johnston’s screenplay really dives into animal stereotypes.  While there is no requirement for films to teach viewers a lesson, this one really does.

In re-imagining animals living in a major metropolitan area, Zootopia features a wide variety of neighborhoods much in the same way as New York City or London.  Among them are Sahara Square, Tundratown, Rain Forest District, Little Rodentia, and Bunnyburrow.  However, Savanna Central is where animals from all environments get together and the design takes inspiration from Disneyland itself.

Goodwin and Bateman may lead the film but Flash the Sloth (Raymond Persi) steals the show from what became the most GIF-able scene in the entire film.  The two make for a great team so it perplexes me that there isn’t a sequel yet.  Leave it to Pinky and the Brain‘s Maurice LaMarche to do his best Marlon Brando as crime boss Mr. Big.  All in all, Zootopia features a star-studded cast in one of the best-ever animated films from Disney.

Michael Giacchino hits a home run with the film’s score.  While the score follows Judy and Nick, Giacchino tries to make this a universal score.  Shakira, who stars as Zootopia pop icon Gazelle, performs the end credits song, “Try Everything,” written by Sia and Stargate.

This is a film that has something for everyone including–yes–Breaking Bad fans!  Younger children might not notice but adult viewers will instantly be able to catch Woolter and Jesse in their underground operation.  I’ll say this–this isn’t something you’d expect from a film targeted at children.  Oh well, I didn’t mind!

Zootopia is the rare animated Disney film that feels like it was made for adults almost as much as children.

DIRECTORS:  Byron Howard and Rich Moore, Jared Bush (co-director)
SCREENWRITERS:  Jared Bush and Phil Johnston
CAST:  Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, Jenny Slate, Nate Torrence, Bonnie Hunt, Don Lake, Tommy
Chong, J.K. Simmons, Octavia Spencer, Alan Tudyk, and Shakira

Disney opened Zootopia on March 4, 2016. The film is streaming on Disney+. Grade: 5/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.