Disney’s done it again. And I know we really shouldn’t be surprised by now. Especially since I’m now pretty late to the game on this review. Just this past week the animated mega-hit crossed the Billion dollar threshold in worldwide box office earnings, moving into the 26th highest-grossing film of all time. Sure,these “highest-grossing” lists don’t quite mean what they used to, what with 3-D ticket pricing and much higher rates of movie going worldwide, but still cracking the 7-figure threshold is no small achievement. Zootopia has also been raking in critical acclaim, sitting at a stellar 98% on RottenTomatoes, and already jockeying for the Best Animated Film Oscar for next February. But does it live up to the hype?
Yup. Zootopia is really a clever movie. Not that talking animals are anything new, and the fictional megacity is pretty commonplace in the Hunger Games era. But what this movie achieves is authenticity. The creators managed to give this world come cultural history, highlighting prejudices within the population and hinting at larger themes of equity and identity in a seemingly utopic society. The impressive thing about Zootopia is that it manages to mingle these serious themes into a genuinely interesting story without it feeling too preachy. The metaphors were never heavy-handed and the allegories weren’t so over-the-top that it distracted from the fun plot. Throw in some great voice acting from the likes of Jason Bateman, and some funny (if bizarre) jokes for the adults watching, like a nudist colony and Godfather references, and you have the perfect formula for success. I do wish that the trailers didn’t give away the whole sloth scene, because that really would have stolen the show had it still been a surprise. Special shout-out to Nate Torrence as Clawhauser, the hilariously doofy leopard who ran the front desk at the police station, who was definitely my favorite character.
By now, Disney has perfected the art and will likely continue the pattern of releasing a Disney Animation film in the early spring to avoid competing with their frenemies (Pixar) who own the big summer release. I hear there’s even a chance of a Zootopia 2 on the way. I’m not sure how I feel about that, given how nicely this wrapped up, but the world they created in Zootopia was big and vibrant, so I suppose there’s room for more stories. Overall, Zootopia is a good movie that’s sufficiently fun for the whole family. Like Frozen and its numerous Pixar predecessors, this will quickly join the pantheon of elite animated films. Go watch it. Rating: 9 of 10