I love movies. I love writing about them. Hope you like reading what I write.
I saw this movie in a cinema on a holiday Thursday at half two in the afternoon. Needless to say the theatre was packed with children. Thankfully the movie distracted people from the embarrassing reality that I, a supposedly grown man, spends his day off watching Disney movies in the middle of the day.
Zootropolis is a Disney film about an urban community in which mammals, both predators and prey, get on together. A recently graduated cop, Officer Hops, the first bunny police officer of the ZPD is tasked with finding a missing otter. A furry neo-noir commences.
The lead in this film is very, very Disney. By that I mean, she’s a bright-eyed optimist who must battle prejudices affecting her in order to find her place in society. She plays that role very well. As a bunny she’s seen as too weak to be a police officer, but she keeps trying, gaining much empathy from the audience.
What makes this film different from many with this style of lead, particularly for a family film, is that prejudice is all around her. It affects not only her and other rabbits, but animals of various types. The rabbits, including our supposedly good lead, even have their own prejudices against predators, particularly foxes.
Enter Wilde, a fox who makes his living as a conman, who, through various circumstances, Hops is forced to work with on this mystery. Through him, we see that the case of prejudice in this fable is something more complicated than most kids’ stories which deal with it.
This mystery/social commentary takes place in a very cool utopia for animals (hence the alternate title for this film Zootopia). As this is a social commentary, it’s very appropriate that the setting is a city with similarities to our 21st Century cities and they do manage to fit in some creative little touches showing how the animals of different shapes, sizes and species interact with it.
For all the serious talk I’ve been giving about prejudice etc in the review thus far, this is in every way a comedy. Unlike with something like Inside Out where I felt my emotions sway to and fro as Pete Doctor and his team played with me like an instrument, this film firmly kept me in comedy mode for the runtime. While there were serious moments, like the majority of other good comedies, one could tell while watching it that they would get back to the jokes eventually.
The jokes themselves are pretty good as well. I feel that I won’t be remembering any of them as much as the average The Simpsons episode, but I got a few good little chuckles. What’s irritating though is that the funniest scene in the movie is the one included in almost its entirety in one of the trailers. You know the one. The one that got you a pretty good laugh the first time, but became a little irritating upon the tenth time you saw it. That kind of sullied my appreciation of the funny lack of speed in some mammals that appear part way through this movie.
The comedy feels similar to a Dreamworks film at times. In fact, the film itself could easily have been made by the same guys who gave us The Bee Movie, with lots of pop culture references and a very early 21st century vibe that I’m pretty sure will feel more like a time capsule in a few years than a timeless Disney film.
Thankfully, there is a definite focus on the timeless elements of this film, most importantly its underlying and mature statement on prejudice. Oh, and Idris Elba as the Police Chief. He should play all animals and all cops.
Recommended Scenario: When you want a film with a bit of heart and a pretty good message. Plus some Dreamworks style comedy for good measure.