Zootopia Movie Review
If humans are a virus to this Earth, Zootopia proves that if animals were to talk, drive cars and live in cities, the world would be just as messed up. Zootopia also proves that with a solid screenplay, creative characters and a fun story, magic can happen--and magic does happen in this highly entertaining family flick.
About a bunny named Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) who, defying all expectation, becomes the first rabbit to become a police officer in the city of Zootopia and, despite ridicule, helps break a case involving 14 missing citizens, Zootopia is a fun and action-packed adventure designed in a way that is almost impossible to hate.
Even though there is a 15-minute stretch in the middle where the story screeches to a painful halt.
The movie, from the folks behind Wreck-It Ralph and Tangled, has everything kids (and adults who used to be kids) love: talking animals, car chases, more talking animals, adorable gay, chubby cheetahs... more talking animals. The filmmakers transport the audience from one interest locale to the next (Zootopia, for some reason not very well explained, has a tropical jungle region, a tundra region and more), showcasing some beautiful visual effects and artistry along the way. More importantly, the story introduces several classic or near-classic characters, least of which are the two leads (the other being a misdemeanor criminal fox named Nick Wilde, voiced by Jason Bateman)--Mr. Big, who is essentially Marlon Brando’s godfather if he were trapped inside the body of a shrew/ugly-rat-thing, and Doug the Sloth, the runaway star of the film’s best scene, are both highlights.
Zootopia is crafty, creative and mildly unpredictable, even if the general premise isn’t as original or sophisticated as, say, Inside Out. The movie is a blast to watch--that is, until the filmmakers get a little too smart for their own good. Maybe it’s just me--maybe my sugar rush from the Girl Scout Cookies my fiance snuck into the theater faded, I don’t know--but the movie unexpectedly craters at the beginning of the third act. Zootopia has a false ending at this stage, which is fine, but the scenes that follow are a seat-squirming chore--the energy, the charisma, the sense of forward momentum staggers to a stop, and the story arguably gets too heavy and serious for younger viewers. At nearly 110 minutes, the movie suddenly begins to feel long and overextended.
Thankfully, Zootopia recovers once Judy Hopps gets back onto the case, but the movie would have been nearly perfect had the filmmakers figured out a way to trim 10 minutes from the running time, much from this “dead” section that bogs down the middle.
Still, Zootopia is a fun, exciting and highly entertaining movie that offers a positive message about diversity. It is an easy contender to be the best family film of the year, and certainly worth seeing in theaters.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.