By James Hancock March 3rd, 2016
Ordinarily I don’t rush out and see every big-budget animated film. I have some experience in the world of low-budget animation but as a viewer I tend to like animation that has a bit more of an edge to it, something often missing from giant-sized productions. This is not a knock against the creativity and accomplishments of the thousands of people working at Dreamworks, Pixar, etc. but in general I don’t feel as if they’re concerned with making movies geared toward bald-headed movie freaks like myself who have a taste for sex and violence. That said, I love it when a great movie like The Incredibles (2004) or How to Train Your Dragon (2010) comes along to make me feel like a kid again. I grew up on a steady diet of animation classics and a great animated film makes me feel like I’m pulling up a chair next to a warm fire. Animation is a medium of limitless possibilities whose potential is too rarely fully explored making it all the more special when a brilliant animator like Don Hertzfeldt pushes the boundaries in awe inspiring ways with films like World of Tomorrow. Zootopia features a cast of soft and fuzzy anthropomorphic animals, so it was not high on my list of movies to see until I saw the trailer that I’ve linked below. I hate to describe movies with words like “cute” or “adorable”, but I absolutely found the trailer to be cute and adorable and decided then and there to see it. The movie, I’m happy to report, completely delivers. If you’re tired of listening to your kids beg you to take them to see Deadpool (which you absolutely should let them see) and are looking for a safe, family-friendly alternative, Zootopia is a very enjoyable roller coaster ride that audiences of all ages should find highly entertaining.
Zootopia has three directors at the helm, Byron Howard, Rich Moore & Jared Bush and between them their credits include animated movies like Bolt, Tangled and Wreck-It Ralph. Zootopia features a classic buddy film scenario where an idealistic rookie cop (Judy Hopps) and a streetwise hustler (Nick Wilde) join forces to solve a mysterious epidemic that is causing animals to return to the savage state that they evolved out of many years ago. In Zootopia all animals live in harmony and part of the fun of the movie is seeing the incredible detail of the world built by the animators and the various topographies and cultures that make up the city. Ginnifer Goodwin steals the show as Judy Hopps, an incredibly hyper and earnest young bunny who wants only to help the world. Jason Bateman more than holds his own as her wingman creating a chemistry between the two of them that is more enjoyable than the actual plot. The movie remains fresh and unpredictable for much of the story, overall a surprisingly effective family friendly whodunit. My only real criticism is that I feel no need to rush out and see this movie again unless I were babysitting my very young nieces and nephews. I would not place the movie on the same level as The Incredibles (2004) or How to Train Your Dragon (2010), however if you love animation and enjoy wholesome entertainment without irony, you will not be disappointed by Zootopia.
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Also if you’re curious about some of the animated films that I have worked on with director Bill Plympton, here are the trailers to Cheatin’ and The Loneliest Stoplight. Enjoy: