Zootopia Review!

Jondee here at Bunny Burrow,

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Zootopia is the best film of 2016! It accomplishes not only entertainment; laughs, action, and lovable characters, but complex themes that are extremely topical for our time. It is impressive that the story team with a screenplay by Jared Bush and Phil Johnston, joined by Byron Howard, Rich Moore (co-directors with Jared Bush), Phil Johnston, Jennifer Lee, Josie Trinidad and Jim Reardon have assembled a world that is captivating. If given the choice of going to the Star Wars world and Zootopia, I’m headed straight to Zootpia. The visuals are beautiful, but there is so much to the world building that I hope it shows up in Animal Kingdom or other parks. The visual references are so extensive, I’m eager to see the film many times. Bravo to the creative team for tackling such challenging themes and I’m impressed that they are in a cartoon film. One is embodied in our hero, Judy Hopps (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin from Once Upon a Time), a small town bunny in the fast paced city where her new job as police officer puts her in a male dominated workplace. Don’t judge a bunny by her fur. The other theme is bullying which is seen with Judy snubbed by her fellow officers, but even more with the young Nick Wilde (voiced as an adult by Jason Bateman from Arrested Development). This is so important to deal with for young people and really all people. Lastly, is the most important, a few of the predators (otters and others) have turned feral, it is noted in the film that they make up 10% of the population of Zootopia so the rest of Zootopians start to fear them. This message alone propels the film to the top movie for me since no other film takes on such relevant social themes.

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The film begins with the narration of nine year old Judy Hopps (Della Saba) who is in a play on the history of the animals dating back a thousand years. The predator and prey animals had a brutal relationship until they reached a Zootopian state of peace between them. We can see that it’s mammals that make up Zootopia, how about aquatic mammals like dolphins?  I wonder about other animals like insects, fish, and birds that may be unintelligent and possibly some kind of food.  Do they have pets or zoos?  Then, what about reptiles like crocodiles and snakes?  The young Judy shows her dead acting with a bottle of ketchup which shocks her parents, Stu (voiced by Don Lake, who was in the Bonnie Hunt Show) and Bonnie (played by Bonnie Hunt). Judy’s dream is to be a cop in Zootopia where “anyone can be anything.” She notices later that tickets are taken by a fox bully, Gideon Gray (played by Phil Johnston). He knocks down Judy and uses his claws to slash her across the face, a reminder he says of her failure. The fox walks away and Judy shows the others the tickets she took from him. Fifteen years pass, and Judy enrolls into the academy. She faces the different climates of Zootopia and also the much larger candidates. At first, Judy is knocked down, but then uses her bunny smarts to surpass all of the candidates. She graduates as the first bunny officer and is made an officer in the ZPD with a speech delivered by Major Lionheart (J.K. Simmons) as the assistant mayor, Bellwether (Jenny Slate) tries not to get pushed aside. All of this has some reflection later in the movie.

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Judy says farewell to her parents and 275 brothers and sisters at the monorail station. Her parents worry about her going to the big city and her father gives her some anti-fox devices, Judy reluctantly takes the Fox Away spray. She slips on her headphones to play the “Try Everything” song by Gazelle (Shakira) which runs through the Zootopia introduction. This is wondrous with the camels racing in Savanna Central, the bursting geysers of Tundratown, and the constant splatters of water in the Rainforest District. It is more beautiful than any theme park and I just wanted the monorail to stop so I could wander the various districts. She checks into her rundown apartment with annoying neighbors and loves it. Judy is an early waker and heads to the police department where she sees the bulky, but cheerful Clawhauser (Nate Torrence) who is a fan of Gazelle. He points her to the briefing room where the rhinos and other officers tower over her. In charge is Chief Bogo, the burly water buffalo voiced by Idris Elba, he hands out assignments to investigate the fourteen missing animal cases except Officer Hopps. She is assigned parking duty. He doubts she will be able to hand out an hundred parking tickets.

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She resolves to do the best job and give two hundred tickets before noon. Judy’s keen bunny ears can pick up the dings of expired parking meters. Her zeal is looked down by the people who get the tickets and Judy starts to feel down. She notices a fox and follows him to Jumbeaux’s Cafe, a nice play on the classic elephant name. Judy notices the elephant’s scooping ice cream with its trunk and also that the fox, Nick Wilde, has a child , in an elephant costume, who wants a Jumbeaux Pop for his birthday. Judy sticks up for him by citing health code violations if the owner (voiced by veteran John DiMaggio, he played Bender in Futurama) does not serve them. Judy notices that the child happens to be much older since he drives the van and melts the pop to make dozens of Pawsicles which they sell to the gerbils of the Lemming Brothers law firm. Judy tries to get Nick on his scam, he tells her, “It’s called a hustle, sweetheart”, but Nick is too experienced at the game. He brings her down telling about the dreams of animals at Zootopia.

ZOOTOPIA – JUDY HOPPS, an optimistic bunny who’s new to Zootopia’s police department. ©2015 Disney. All Rights Reserved.
This is when a theft and Judy chases after Duke Weaselton voiced by Alan Tudyk. He is becoming a reliable asset for Disney Animation, the smarmy voice reminds me of the weasels in Roger Rabbit, and his name is a play on his character in Frozen. She chases him to Little Rodentia, working to avoid the tiny rodents, and push back buildings knocked down by the weasel who uses cars as roller skates. Finally, he jumps on board a tram, but Judy, hanging on a gerbil tunnel, swings him away. He pushes down a giant donut towards Judy, she races after it and pulls it away from crushing the shrew lady, Fru Fru (Leah Latham) with her Tar-goat bags (these references go by fast). Judy returns to throw the donut over Duke Weaselton. She brings the thief to the station and Chief Bogo is angry that she disrupted the town to pursue him. He wants her badge when Mrs. Otterton walks in to ask about her missing husband. Bogo says his officers are too busy and Judy accepts the case. The chief wants her to reject the case when Assistant Mayor Bellweather enters and says she contacted the mayor about the case. So Chief Bogo gives Judy Hopps 48 hours to solve the case or resign. She has to get the help of Nick Wilde, travel all over Zootopia, and solve the mystery of what is happening to the predators. The film is very clever, one clue leads to a place at the corner of Tujunga and Vine which Judy mispronounces as “Tu-junga”, the jokes are sophisticated. There are references abound to The Godfather, Breaking Bad, and more, and the cameo voices of Tommy Chong, Kristen Bell, and of course Flash (Raymond S. Persi), the sloth working at the DMV (Department of Mammal Vehicles) are all brilliant. Fifteen carrot recorders out of ten!

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