Movie review by Dennis D. McDonald
I've read some pretty weird reviews of this movie. Some concentrate on what it says (or doesn't say) about racism and stereotypes.
My take is a bit different. Zootopia's weirdness comes from tension based on predators and prey living together and what happens when that balance gets tilted. You can certainly take the resulting action and conflict as a commentary on racism, but I think that may detract from what is at heart a very funny and imaginative film built around a very old theme: "small-town girl goes to big city and makes good."
That the "girl" is a bunny who dreams of becoming a cop in a big city where animals live in environmentally distinct districts just adds to the fun.
Technically the film is gorgeous to look at. Character animation is a clever mix of traditional and modern styles. Much is made of traditional views of different animals: rabbits hop around, foxes are sly, sloths are slow, and mice scurry. The scene at the DMV is worth the price of admission, and Idris Elba's exasperation as the police captain is spot on. Shakira's onscreen performance is hilarious.
Going far beyond the actual story creates a potentially overbearing analysis that says as much about the viewer as about what the movie is "saying." How you experience a movie is always a function not only of what is on the screen but what you bring to it.
In that regard, it is certainly not incorrect to say there is a lot more to Zootopia then meets the eye on first viewing. For me at least that means Zootopia is a candidate for multiple viewings.
Review copyright (c) 2016 by Dennis D. McDonald