Friday, December 9, 2016

Now on Netflix: Zootopia (2016)

Zootopia movie poster
Zootopia (2016) - Directed by Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Jared Bush; Written by Bush and Phil Johnston; Starring Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Jenny Slate, Idris Elba, Octavia Spencer, J.K. Simmons, Bonnie Hunt.

By Kenny Howell

Leave it to a kids film to nail exactly what is going on in the culture right now.

Probably no film this year so perfectly captures where we are as a society. It captures issues such as believing in yourself, identity, and not judging other people based on the way they were born, but also that we can't let fear of one another drive us apart. If we just learned more about each other, the world would be a better place.

Zootopia takes place in a world of all animals, obviously, where predator animals no longer hunt others. Everyone lives among each other, but the world from the past is still very much there and in people's minds. Our main character is Judy Hopps, a bunny that wants to grow up to be a cop, something a bunny has never been. She grows up and achieves her dream and moves to the big city of Zootopia, but finds that the cards are stacked against her because of what she is. She starts off as a meter maid, but while on the beat, a big case falls into her lap. Through persistence, she is able to take on the case, and along with the help of a scammer, but good-natured fox named Nick she met on the street, she tries to get the bottom of why some animals are disappearing from Zootopia.

The script is extremely clever, not just the social aspects, but it is just plain funny. Judy and Nick have to go to the DMV to run a license plate number, and the entire department is run by sloths. That is a pretty easy joke, but the way they handle it, the scene that unfolds with the overactive Judy and the incredibly slow sloths is hilarious.

The voice work and chemistry between Ginnifer Goodwin (A Single Man) and Jason Bateman (The Gift) as Judy and Nick is also just about perfect. Goodwin is very similar to Amy Poehler's Joy in Inside Out, but there is no doubt that the way she plays off the sly, laid back Bateman works so extremely well. Nick is a pretty cynical, and Goodwin is all optimism, and the two know how to sell that so well. Their performances, plus all the other great work (didn't even mention the beautiful animation), makes Zootopia probably the best big studio animated film of the year.

Zootopia is now streaming on Netflix.

Rating: ***1/2

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