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Directors: Byron Howard & Rich Moore
Disney’s 55th animated epic follows the exploits of police officer Judy Hopps, the first bunny officer of the Zootopia Police department. It is an artfully animated and beautifully performed adventure. Taking full advantage of its premise, Zootopia explores some remarkable themes and ideas.
Both Ginnifer Goodwin and Jason Bateman shine in their respective roles as Judy and misunderstood fox Nick Wilde. Both bring childish charm to their roles. That said, the film is infinitely better with the help of its star-studded supporting cast including JK Simmons and Jenny Slate. The real highlight comes courtesy of Idris Elba as buffalo police chief, Chief Bogo.
While the voice-acting and animation may be the most interesting part of the film, there is also an expertly crafted story. Throughout Zootopia, the filmmakers do a remarkable job of examining very grounded and serious themes from discrimination and stereotypes, to police bias, and they do so without ever coming across as preachy or heavy handed. From small remarks like “only bunnies can call other bunnies cute, when others do it…” to the wider narrative being a metaphor for the cultural and political climate of the US, the film remains grounded and insightful. While some of the metaphors (and a great Breaking Bad reference) may be lost on younger children, the film is certain not to leave them behind, and they should still easily pick up on the message of being yourself and treating everyone with kindness.
Despite all of this deep thought, the film never ceases to be unbridled fun and visually stunning. The film makes great use of its world dominated by animals. The pressure is on for Disney’s 56th animated picture to be every bit as creative, fun, and impactful as Zootopia.