Reviewed by: Blake Wilson
Ginnifer Goodwin … Judy Hopps, a rabbit from Bunnyburrow (voice)
Jason Bateman … Nicholas P. “Nick” Wilde, a red fox con artist (voice)
Idris Elba … Chief Bogo, a cape buffalo (voice)
J.K. Simmons … Mayor Lionheart, a noble lion and Mayor of Zootopia (voice)
Octavia Spencer … Mrs. Otterton, a slender North American river otter (voice)
Kristen Bell … Priscilla, a sloth co-worker of Flash (voice)
Alan Tudyk … Duke Weaselton, a small-time weasel crook (voice)
Jenny Slate … Bellwether, a sweet sheep and deputy mayor (voice)
Nate Torrence … Clawhauser, an obese cheetah (voice)
Bonnie Hunt … Bonnie Hopps, a rabbit from Bunnyburrow and mother of Judy Hopps (voice)
Don Lake … Stu Hopps, a rabbit and father of Judy Hopps (voice)
Tommy Chong … Yax, an enlightened laid-back Yak (voice)
Shakira … Gazelle, a gazelle and famous pop star (voice)
Raymond S. Persi … Flash, the “fastest” three-toed sloth in the DMV (voice)
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Rich Moore—“Wreck-It Ralph”
Walt Disney Animation Studios
Walt Disney Pictures
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|Distributor:||Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures|
In the world of “Zootopia,” animals live like… well… people. Animals of all breeds, predator and prey alike, live together seemingly in peace and harmony. A bunny named Judy Hopps (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin) has a dream. She wants to be a cop for the Zootopia Police Department. Being a bunny, everyone seems to think that dream is a very crazy one, including Judy’s overly-worried parents.
15 years pass, and Judy is attending the Zootopia Police Academy. After stumbling out of the gate during her training, she works her way up to becoming top of the class, earning her spot on the force, much to the apparent dismay of Chief Bogo (voiced by Idris Elba). On her first day, Bogo gives her just a parking meter job. Despite some disappointment with this, Judy immediately takes this opportunity to try and impress.
While on the job, Judy runs into a fox named Nick Wilde (voiced by Jason Bateman). After helping him pay for an ice cream for his “son,” Judy soon puts it together that Nick is a conman, and clearly manipulated her for his benefit. The next day, against Bogo’s wishes, Judy agrees to help a desperate Mrs. Otterton (Octavia Spencer) find her missing husband. Angered, Bogo gives Judy 48 hours to solve it, or she resigns from the force. What to do?
Quality-wise and from a creativity level, “Zootopia” is very impressive. The story is tight and goes along at a solid pace. Zootopia’s many regions, such as Tundra Town, Rainforest District, Little Rodentia, among many others, are well-designed and cool to see. I only wish the movie would have spent a little more time observing the scenery. The voice acting is also very solid, with some strong chemistry between Goodwin and Bateman.
There are some very nice messages to be found in the film, as well. One of the strongest positive messages I observed is that we can’t reach our goals and dreams without hard work. With that in mind, “Zootopia” pokes fun at Disney’s fairy tale formula. Bogo has one of the film’s best lines, when he says, “This isn’t some cartoon musical where everything ends in a sparkly happily ever after.”
And truthfully, we see that Judy has to work hard to get where she is. She is resourceful, intelligent, clever, brave and confident. She makes mistakes, but she doesn’t back down or give up in the face of obstacles. Judy’s journey reminded me of 2 Chronicles, as her hard work and perseverance help her achieve her goals:
“But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.” – 2 Chronicles 15:7
The film also stresses that the world is “broken” and that “life is messy.” I really have admired Disney for presenting flawed, imperfect characters in their films, lately. It makes their films more relatable and real. In the film’s theme song, “Try Everything,” the lyrics proclaim, “I still mess up, but I’ll just start again.” “I want to try, even though I could fail,” and “I’ll keep on making those new mistakes every day.” It’s the kind of inspirational tune that says, like the film itself, that despite our imperfections, despite our issues, we should not let those mistakes bring us down and prevent us from living our lives or pursuing our dreams.
In addition, there are a couple of solid moments that say a good deal about watching our words, especially when it comes to talking about other people. Judy doesn’t thoroughly think about her words during a press interview that ultimately (unintentionally) hurts Nick’s feelings, and also causes the city to go berserk.
A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. —Proverbs 15:1
There’s an emotional moment later in the film that presents the importance of forgiveness, as well. Police officers are shown in a positive light and trying to make the world a better place is always encouraged.
Finally, Chief Bogo and others in Zootopia learn not to judge others based on their appearance or their limitations. Judy shows that despite her size and appearance, she’s perfectly capable of solving big cases on her own. Throughout the film, I was reminded of this theme, which is represented in 1 Samuel:
“Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” —1 Samuel 16:7
“Zootopia” also has moments that reference racial and gender prejudice, particularly in the workplace. One character in particular talks a lot about Judy’s big job being “good for the little guys.” While these incidences are certainly timely and intriguing (especially with all the issues regarding those topics on the news today), they make for arguably mature themes for a movie aimed at kids and families.
There are also mixed-to-negative messages in “Zootopia.” The film touches several times on the ideas of tolerance and bashing stereotypes (Disney does put messages in their films that appeal to both conservatives and liberals). There is a scene that depicts a “peace rally.” While it is specifically about “predators and prey,” this may bring to mind (especially to adults) labor strikes or the Gay rights movement. In this scene, a character states, “Zootopia is a place of diversity and embracing differences.”
Also, we hear a handful of times that in “Zootopia,” “Anyone can be anything!” This message felt somewhat forced and heavy-handed, at times. Particularly toward the end, Zootopia’s clever story suffers a little bit from being a little too out in the open with this message.
Language: In an unfortunate first for a Disney animated feature, God’s name is interjected 3 or 4 times in the form of “oh my g*d” and “by g*d.” Someone blurts out, “Sweet cheese and crackers!” Some other modern-day curse word substitutes and elementary schoolyard put-downs. (i.e., “heck,” “cripes,” “butt,” “jerk,” “loser,” “gosh”).
Violence: There are a few scenes that may scare sensitive children. A few “savage” animals cause some mayhem (we see claw marks in cars, on floors, etc.). There is a brief image of an individual with scratches all over him (one of his eyes is swollen). The film also has a few lightly intense action scenes with very little injury. A few explosions are seen. A tranquilizer gun (of sorts) is shot. Three characters are nearly “iced” (or frozen). In a play at the beginning of the film, a young Judy pretends to bleed profusely using red streamers and ketchup.
Sex/Nudity: There is an odd scene where Judy and Nick encounter a “naturalist club” of naked animals. None of the animals in this scene display any sexual anatomy. While not much of an issue for kids (since animals appear this way typically in the wild), it is clearly a “nudist” joke aimed at adults (Judy is clearly uncomfortable by it). Besides that, the singer Gazelle wears a midriff-baring outfit. She and her tiger dancers (who are seen wearing only shorts) dance slightly provocatively.
Other: Meditation is briefly seen. An angry elephant business owner refuses service. Nick cons and lies to people (but later changes his tune).
“Zootopia” is entertaining, clever, fun, and it has some great animation (I saw it in 3D. The extra dimension does add some depth, but I wouldn’t recommend spending the extra money). I personally did not find it to be as enjoyable as “Tangled”, “Frozen” or “Big Hero 6,” but it’s still a very solid effort from the Mouse House. It has some genuinely great messages, and may be one of the most thought-provoking animated films I’ve seen to date.
For Christian/media-wise families, there isn’t a lot to complain about in terms of content. The film shies away (at least for the most part) from the typical bathroom humor used in kids” movies, and it’s mild in all major content categories. It may be a tad edgier than most of Disney’s other animated efforts, but it doesn’t push the content quotient past the boundaries of the film’s PG rating.
Parents do need to be aware, however, that there are some surprisingly mature themes and mixed messages. A lot of these will probably go over the heads of younger kids, but parents that decide to take their crew to “Zootopia” should still be prepared, just in case, to discuss these topics with their children.
Violence: Mild to moderate / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: Mild
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.