My wife and I decided that it was time for our kiddo to go to her first movie today. She had a great time, and is now pretty convinced that she is a bunny. I figure since it was her first movie in theatres, it may as well be my first movie review…
So without further ado, here is a DadLunch review of…
(Oh yeah… spoilers ahead)
Zootopia starts off with our hero bunny Judy Hopps (played by the Ginnifer Goodwin AKA the woman who is constantly pregnant on Once Upon A Time on ABC… or just really loves winter coats 365 days a year), acting out a brutal mauling in her school play. This ketchup filled stage fight is our introduction to the world of Zootopia. Zootopia, itself, is a city in a world where animals have evolved past animal instinct. Predators and prey live together peacefully in society as a whole. This message of inclusion is a running theme through the whole movie, and without getting too political I think the timing for such a message is right on point.
As far as our story goes, Judy is a bunny who dreams of being a big city police officer. However, no bunny has ever become a cop before, and she is constantly being told that she should give up. What follows is a relatively standard story of “You can be whatever you want if you try…”, but the message is presented in a pretty fun way.
The world of Zootopia itself is crafted pretty well. The city is split up into several zones (Rainforest, Arctic, Desert, etc), and seeing the how the animals live in their own little section of the city is reasonably entertaining and clever. The mice live in a very small part of town, the hamsters get to work via hamster tubes, and various other animals act as you would expect. All these things come together to make a fun little city. I wouldn’t have minded a little more on the world building end, but I understand that kids movies have to be pretty streamlined to hold their ever wavering attention. The fact that this one clocks in at about 1 hour 45 minutes is already pushing the limit for a lot of kids… and plenty of adults.
The one thing that irked me a bit is the other main character Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman, who manages to somehow just be a fox version of Jason Bateman). Foxes in the movie are portrayed in a negative light, and are inherently not trusted by the rest of society. The first time we meet Nick we are shown that he is a two-bit hustler. Now, his character does go through a reasonable arc where we are shown a sad childhood story, and given context for his behavior. I would have just preferred that with all the negative talk about foxes in the movie (a pretty blatant analogy for some of the garbage minorities have to go through in this country), that the first time we saw a fox, it wasn’t fulfilling a pile of those stereotypes. I’m not sure what the better way of doing it would be, but I think there are other options.
The main plot of the movie is a mystery revolving around our Bunny and Fox duo reluctantly teaming up, then of course bonding. They end up solving a very convoluted plot around the city predators being turned back into “savages”. As not to spoil the entire thing, it’s not a mind blowing mystery, and there are some gaping plot holes, but it is serviceable. It does sort of feel like the creators don’t know where to end it, and it probably could be ten minutes shorter, but it’s not a major issue.
For the adults there is a cute Godfather reference, some Breaking Bad humor, and some other more adult themed jokes. It never strays too far off the beaten path though, and won’t leave you needing to see it again to figure out what you missed or anything like that. I did enjoy some of the cop show cliches that they ran with, the sloths running the DMV, and the running gag about bunnies breeding like crazy. All in all, it’s not painful for parents, but nothing you are going to fall in love with.
For kids, it’s a fun, but slightly forgettable romp through an interesting world. I just don’t think the movie had that one character kids will latch onto for months or years ala Cars, Frozen, etc. I don’t see a million kids dressing up like Judy Hopps or Nick Wilde this Halloween. That’s not really a knock per se, just kind of a note. That being said, I wouldn’t be stunned if when it came out on demand my daughter latched onto it as her movie of the month. I just don’t think it will be the one she watches 400 times in a year (“Let it Gooooooo…. Let it Goooooo…”)
Overall DadLunch Rating: 8 out of 10