Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) is a small-town bunny, she lives in the farming community of Bunnyburrow. Her parents are carrot farmers, but she dreams of going to the big city of Zootopia, and becoming a police officer. She tries out at the police academy, and after initially failing in the various physical tests, she eventually learns how to use her diminutive size and speed to her advantage. Judy graduates at the top of her class. Despite her brains and skill, Chief Bogo (Idris Elba) gives Judy a job as a meter maid. While writing one of 200 tickets, Judy nabs a criminal, and so Chief Bogo is forced to give her the case of Emmitt Otterton, an otter who has been missing for two weeks, his wife, Mrs. Otterton (Octavia Spencer) is desperate to find him. Judy finds a clue that leads her to a conniving fox named Nick Wilde. (Jason Bateman) Judy needs Nick to help her, but Nick conned Judy while she was a meter maid. Can Judy trust Nick? Do they find Emmitt?
This movie does certain things very well. It illustrates the contrast of idealism versus reality well, and shows the sadness of living alone, and slowly watching dreams slip away. It does this with wonderful poignant humor. But then, Zootopia aims for bigger themes, like the treatment of predator and prey, as a metaphor for challenges facing our society today. I found the metaphors here a bit too obvious, and the moral a bit too heavy-handed. Also, the story becomes too complex when the story turns to finding Emmitt, and the action sequences seem like a set-up for a Disney ride, between habitats like the Amazon jungle and the frozen tundra, and not actual plot in a movie. Zootopia is at its best when it is light and humorous, not when it tries to imitate an action movie or deal with larger thematic elements. Therefore it is not as good as Inside Out, but still very good.
The voice acting is very good here. Jason Bateman is the perfect choice to play Nick, the con-artist fox, who never lets people inside his façade. Bateman handles the humor and serious scenes with equal aplomb. Ginnifer Goodwin is also equally good as Judy, who starts out very optimistic, but despite several setbacks, she remains determined to reach her goal. Goodwin plays the sunny Judy and the determined Judy with spunk, and humor. The chemistry between Bateman and Goodwin is very good, and the comedic timing is impeccable. Idris Elba is funny as Chief Bogo, an exaggerated John Luther type character. JK Simmons and Shakira add to the star-studded cast.
The animation is stunningly beautiful. The city of Zootopia is a bright beautiful, colorful city, fully of inviting inventive characters, the pacing is good, except it slows a little when the pursuit of Emmitt is underway. Zootopia is a bit too long for my taste an hour and 48 minutes. Several great songs by Shakira add to the overall uplifting mood of the film.
Zootopia: It’s a jungle out there.