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Zootopia - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
Directing: B+
Acting: B+
Writing: B+
Cinematography: B+
Editing: B+
Animation: A-

Well, this is new: Walt Disney Animation Studios has taken a concept similarly used by Pixar, and actually done them better. Much like last year's The Good Dinosaur, which was good to great in every way except its actual story, Zootopia presents a world in which evolution worked out differently. But this time, instead of dinosaurs ruling the earth, we have mammals ruling the earth. And there are no humans. It's just all mammals, all the time. They wear clothes, except for the scene in which a nudist resort is visited (where animals covered in fur make for family-friendly use of the joke). In that sense, Zootopia is like the 21st-century answer to Disney's 1973 animated feature Robin Hood.

Zootopia is surprisingly political, though -- in the guise of social acceptance. One can imagine Donald Trump supporters hating this movie. Here we have a story in which there are fourteen cases of mammals "gone savage" and attacking those around them, and the fact that all of them are predators creates a prejudiced panic around the city of Zootopia.

This is a world in which predators and prey have "evolved" to live together in harmony, mind you. To be fair, this movie turned out quite well for one with two script writer credits, seven story credits, and one more credit for "additional story material." That usually spells disaster for a story, and it does afford some leaps in logic here. Then again, how often do we get logic from animated movies featuring talking animals? Still, the script never bothers to tell us, what do the predators eat, if not the prey around them? (The closest we get is the fat cheetah manning the front desk at the police station: he eats doughnuts.) I just keep thinking there must be some type of horrifying Soylent Green-type operation going on behind the scenes. We just won't tell the children in the audience.

What we do tell the kids is this: young bunny Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) is bent on becoming the first bunny ever to become a police officer. We first meet her as a child, and soon enough she's grown up and making her way through Academy training, outsmarting all the other, large animals. On her first day on the job, stuck giving out traffic tickets, she meets con artist fox Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman), and over time they begin to work together in spite of their inherent biases against each others' species.

This theme of working through biases is worked throughout the story, both in the relationship between these two, and with the panic that spreads through the city when predators start going berserk. Some might find it a little heavy handed (one line in which the fox is told how "articulate" he is straddles the line), but I never found it to be too much or particularly preachy. To be certain, children will glean important lessons from it, and adults -- at least the ones who aren't small minded -- are bound to appreciate it.

Best of all, the cast of characters is radically diverse, and it's always fun to see so many different species working human jobs. The scene in which the DMV is found to be staffed entirely by sloths stretches the joke a bit; I was relieved when that was over. But most of the time, Zootopia moves along at a nice clip, has smart dialogue, and adorable furry characters. What more could you want?

Ginnifer Goodwin and Jason Bateman are an unlikely but fun team in ZOOTOPIA.

Overall: B+
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