Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) has always wanted to be something more. Labeled as a "cute" bunny as a kid, Judy has been out to prove to her parents, her friends and her community that she can be the first rabbit Police Officer in the Zootopia Police Department. After a grueling week of training, Judy's dream comes true- she's appointed by Mayor Lionheart (J.K. Simmons) to the ZPD. However, not everyone is so accepting. Chief Bogo (Idris Elba) doesn't believe in her abilities and treats her as an outcast in the predator-heavy ranks of the Police Department. Judy is stuck on parking duty, and despite her best efforts, her dream slowly turns into a nightmare.
Zootopia is a remarkable film in nearly every way. It's satisfying on a character level, giving us a cast of dynamic, fascinating Disney creations that evolve and change throughout the story. It's stylistically terrific, mixing the bright pop of an animated film with a jazzy style that recalls classics like L.A. Confidential and Who Framed Roger Rabbit. From a political perspective, Zootopia is effective, giving social critics and thematically-driven viewers plenty of material to dissect and discuss. And on a fundamental storytelling level, it hits pretty much all of the right notes. The story flows naturally, with just enough twists and turns to keep things interesting. So yeah, despite some minor quibbles I had with the pacing, this really is nearly the perfect package.
Part of that instant connection comes from the voice cast and the characters, most of whom are instantly likable and funny. Judy Hopps is a plucky and determined heroine, voiced with energy and grit by Ginnifer Goodwin. From the moment that Zootopia starts, Hopps is positioned as the clear lead and she's a universally likable character. Her foil is the laidback and quick-witted Nick Wilde, who is driven by street smarts and voiced with snarky ease by Jason Bateman. As the story progresses, Hopps and Wilde begin to warm up to each other, and we're introduced to the buddy cop storyline, the other genre element that makes this movie a blast of fun. One of the reasons that I really want to see Zootopia become a franchise is the fantastic chemistry between Hopps and Wilde. By the end of the film, they're a perfect match and I truly want to see more of these two great characters in the future.
But as it goes with most great films, it all flows back to story. What I think is most exceptional about Zootopia's story is how well it services everything that this film is trying to accomplish. By crafting a crime mystery, Zootopia perfectly meshes its style, its characters and its racial message into a perfect brew. It caters to both young and old audiences, working with a tale that is unpredictable, and most importantly, a whole lot of fun. As a fan of old school crime movies and flashy noir comedies like Inherent Vice, this movie feels like it was made for me. If any of this sounds appealing to you, you'll probably love Zootopia.
Endlessly witty, smart and fun, Zootopia is another great addition to the Disney canon, filled with terrific characters and an important anti-prejudice message. It's a triumph in every aspect of creativity and storytelling, hitting all the right beats as it moves through its addicting tale. It's everything you could want from a Disney movie and more. In fact, Zootopia is practically the perfect storm of an animated movie, blending genres, turning a crooked eye to American society and throwing in pop culture references like it's nobody's business. After all, this is a kids' movie with an extended Godfather joke. I mean, come on. How can you not love it?
THE FINAL GRADE: A (9.2/10)
Image Credits: Variety, Hollywood Reporter, Forbes, The Guardian, Joblo