There’s nothing quite as unique as being the only adult man in a theater full of children for a Disney animated movie. I’ve experienced this on more than one occasion, and regardless of the quality of the film, it’s always a little strange. So, before buying my ticket to ZOOTOPIA, I was prepared for an hour and a half of being vaguely uncomfortable. After all, this review isn’t going to write itself. What I didn’t expect was to see absolutely zero children in the theater. That’s right. A Saturday matinee of Zootopia (a children’s movie about a talking bunny police officer) was nearly sold out with excited adults. And the hype was real.
I wasn’t expecting much from this movie. The various trailers left me a little confused about the premise, but I like Jason Bateman and I like sloths. I did not expect to see the best movie of the new era of Disney. If you’re uninitiated, Disney’s Animated films have been crushing it: Frozen, Wreck-it-Ralph, Big Hero 6. Zootopia is easily my favorite Disney movie since The Lion King. It follows the life and early career of a rabbit named Judy Hopps who moves to the city of Zootopia to become the city’s first rabbit police officer. Zootopia is pretty bizarre because all animals, predators and prey alike, live in harmony. Soon, she teams up with her natural enemy, a fox played by Bateman, to find a missing Otter. From that little synopsis, it sounds like a bunch of films in one and it kind of is. You get a detective noir, a conspiracy thriller, an underdog story, and most importantly a deeply profound insight on prejudice.
Zootopia isn’t holding back on throwing some wicked punches in regards to the themes it’s tackling. Nearly every conflict in the movie can be traced back to the real world political climate. I wish I had movies with such clear and positive messages when I was young, but I’m glad kids will be able to see them today. The entire film is based around the simple philosophy that no matter your background, size, species, or differences everyone should and has the capacity to live together in harmony. The best part is, it conveys this message in the least preachy, most entertaining way. It’s just a great movie.
The conflict is wildly fascinating with well-developed and lovable characters and there’s an even a twist! Officer Hopps is arguably the best female character we’ve seen in cinema in over a decade. She has goals and she attains them without letting any of her naysayers get in the way. Hopps was everything Rey from The Force Awakens should have been. She’s not afraid to ask for help, but can just as well get the job done on her own. By the time she teams up with Nick the fox, we’ve already seen what she’s capable of, but he can assist in everything she lacks. As far as buddy cops go, it doesn’t get much better than this.
I hope you can see why so many adults were in the theater. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that they took their children to see the movie the week before and were coming back with their friends because of how great the story was. Any complaint I may have with the film can be attributed to the fact that I’m way out of the targeted demographic. I’m not a huge Shakira fan is what I’m trying to say. Anyway, see this movie. Take your kids, take your girlfriend, take your coworker. It’s really wonderful.
4 out of 5 Stars
Running Time: 1 hour and 48 minutes