More in-depth film festival coverage than any other website!
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 

Overall Rating

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look100%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 0%

1 review, 1 rating

Latest Reviews

They Shall Not Grow Old by Jay Seaver

Mary Poppins Returns by Peter Sobczynski

Mortal Engines by Jay Seaver

Vox Lux by Peter Sobczynski

Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse by Peter Sobczynski

Vox Lux by alejandroariera

Parallel (2018) by Jay Seaver

Witch: Part 1 - The Subversion, The by Jay Seaver

Lôi Báo by Jay Seaver

Bohemian Rhapsody by Rob Gonsalves

subscribe to this feed

[] Buy posters from this movie
by Jay Seaver

"A very entertaining animal mystery."
4 stars

The packed theater for "Zootopia" gives me hope that maybe, just maybe, Disney has stumbled upon something little girls like almost as much as "Frozen". That's a fine movie, after all, but I suspect even those of us who like it the most (and only see their nieces every couple months or so) are ready for the little kids in their lives to move on. If this is the thing that does it, it will be a switch to something that is cute, clever, and funny.

Zootopia is a city in which "evolved" anthropomorphic mammals live together, having evolved beyond the need for the carnivorous ones to eat the others, although as Judy Hopps (voice of Ginnifer Godwin) discovers on her first day as the city's first bunny-rabbit cop - where she is put on parking duty despite her being at the top of her class - that doesn't mean that everybody entirely gets along, or that there isn't a lot of prejudice to overcome. That's part of why she promises a distraught otter (voice of Octavia Spencer) that she'll find her missing husband when everyone else seems to have other priorities, though her captain (voice of Idris Elba) says if she can't do it within 48 hours, she's off the force. That means Judy will have to enlist the help of Nick Wilde (voice of Jason Bateman), a con-man with whom she has more in common than either would like to admit, even though her parents warned her about foxes above all other predators.

There is a moral to the story that the three directors and seven or so writers credited are telling, and the adults in the audience probably won't find it terrible subtle, although they should probably remind themselves that they're not exactly the movie's primary audience. Institutional a tough idea around which to build a movie for kids, in part for the reasons that adults don't really have a handle on dealing with it (it's even tougher to navigate the conflicting ideals of treating everyone as equals and acknowledging differences when there are animal jokes to be made), but also because the idea that the world might be stacked against them is something adults and family entertainment often attempt to shield them from; aside from kindness, it's aspirational - if those ideas aren't in a kid's head, maybe he or she is more likely to actually build a world without them. The filmmakers handle it pretty well, although when talking to kids about the subject afterwards, it's probably best to just stick to the broad strokes rather than try to find a one-to-one mapping for every bit of satire and also acknowledge that the need to have a story with surprises can undercut the theme a bit.

That story's fun, at least, especially since the filmmakers tend to use it as a framework to do lots of different things - what could very easily be a simple mystery plot takes Judy and Nick through all sorts of different environments, with a lot of what goes on being working as bite-sized bits that could probably stand on their own as comic shorts without a lot being changed, although it all comes together pretty nicely. It's not always new jokes, but everything is presented with enthusiasm and cheer that makes it easy to like.

It doesn't hurt that the world of Zootopia is visually terrific. The filmmakers have a lot of fun with scale early on, especially when a chase scene flips all the nifty examples of Judy trying to get by in places where nearly everything is made for much larger animals so that she's the giant trying not to casually wreak havoc with a misplaced paw (this gets pushed aside toward the end, and its absence is felt a bit). Aside from that, the designers and animators do a terrific job of finding an appealing middle ground where it would be easy to be pulled too far in one direction: The city feels modern but doesn't erase the characters' animal personalities, and while CGI characters are generally less stretchy and malleable than their hand-drawn cousins, they generally don't feel stiff here.

Heck, they feel lively enough that Nick and Judy have some of their funniest bits with stunned reaction shots being a counter to that. They are a delightful pair, two of many fun animals in the movie, and like the best animated characters,a result of great teamwork: Ginnifer Godwin's voice work for Judy (a near-seamless match with that of Della Saba, who voices her as a kid) is full of enthusiasm and optimism, which also seems to be Judy's natural state visually, but both sides have room for her to be pugnacious or saddened. Nick's shabby appearance despite sleek lines is a perfect match for Jason Bateman's dry sarcasm, even if they don't share much in the way of appearance. And what goes for them goes for many of the others in the film, all of whom are quickly grasped and amusing without just being one-note.

That cleverness makes "Zootopia" very easy to watch, especially when surrounded by kids delighted at the very cute animal characters. It's probably a little too contemporary and specific in certain ways to join the ranks of the classic Disney movies, but those traits work for it as well, and, hey, if its the one my nieces are constantly playing when it hits video in a few months, I'll be their parents will find it a nice change from princesses.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 03/07/16 07:21:59
[printer] printer-friendly format  

User Comments

4/03/16 Charles Tatum Visually stunning, but didn't need the "don't judge others" preachy stuff 4 stars
Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:

Discuss this movie in our forum

  04-Mar-2016 (PG)
  DVD: 07-Jun-2016

  25-Mar-2016 (PG)

  DVD: 07-Jun-2016

Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About Australia's Largest Movie Review Database.
Privacy Policy | HBS Inc. | |   

All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast