Friday, January 6, 2017

Movie with Abe: Zootopia

Directed by Byron Howard, Rich Moore, and Jared Bush
Released March 4, 2016

There is a marvelous power that animated films have to tell stories with magnificently layered meanings that can be digested by children and adults alike. One of the most well-reviewed films, animated or live-action, of the year does just that. In creating a universe with talking animals where a bunny can become a cop and a fox is a sly con artist, “Zootopia” accomplishes plenty, offering up a great commentary of what it means to be different and succeed despite adversity and demonstrating just how entertaining and enjoyable a movie about talking animals can be.

The cleverly-named Judy Hopps is a small bunny with big dreams. Despite her stature, Judy knows that she does not want to follow in the footsteps of her parents and her many, many siblings to become a carrot farmer, but instead pursues her childhood ambitions of becoming a police officer. When she goes to train at the police academy, she graduates at the top of her class and heads to the city of Zootopia. Though she has overcome so much, she finds that there are still stereotypes at play for all animals, and her drive to make the world a better place kicks in when she starts seeing clues that help her, with the involuntary aid of a witty fox named Nick Wilde, to unravel the mystery of why a number of predators have gone missing.

“Zootopia” is the kind of animated adventure that, like “Ratatouille” and others before it, invests fully in its characters and follows their adventures wherever they may go. Along the way, Judy meets friends and enemies, but the whole time, she is determined to make a difference and not to judge anyone based on their species (an obvious and fitting representation of race). When she is assigned to parking enforcement, she knows that this isn’t what she was meant to do, and fortunately the film follows her and the ambition that leads her to far more exciting things.

Ginnifer Goodwin and Jason Bateman make a superb team to voice Judy and Nick, and their banter makes up a good portion of the film. Idris Elba, Jenny Slate, and Nate Torrance provide top support as the buffalo police chief, sheep assistant mayor, and cheetah police dispatcher, respectively, who interact most with our two protagonists. This film is full of funny moments and a generally fun-spirited mood, and its subtext helps to make it one of the more essential and worthwhile films of the year.


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