Some movies are harder to review than others. When a film just works, it can be difficult to pick it apart in a way that does it justice. It’s far easier to explain why a film doesn’t work than why it does.
Zootopia just works. It’s exactly what an animated feature should be.
First, let’s get the technical aspects out of the way. The film is visually gorgeous. The art style is wonderful, and the animation gives the characters a sense of realism and expression often lacking in similar films. The character design is superb. I could go on, but I’d quickly run out of adjectives.
The story is simple and kid-friendly enough for children to enjoy (my six-year-old, ADHD son was entranced), yet it’s smart enough for adults to enjoy. I never once felt like it was “merely” a kids film. Or, in perhaps what is a better litmus test, I never once looked at my watch.
This film has so much depth that it makes me wonder what’s been going on with all the other animated films over the past several years. The characters are easy to empathize with and have actual development. The story is interesting. The activity in the background will have you catching new things each time you watch it. The message for kids is compelling. The entirely different message for adults is equally compelling.
I’m trying to avoid my usual verbosity, and I fear I may be using too much hyperbole here, but if ever an animated film deserved hyperbole, it’s Zootopia. I can’t wait for the inevitable sequel, I’ll be picking up the Disney Infinity figures “just because,” and I’ll be buying it the moment it lands on DVD/Blu-ray.
My “wildcard” rating below is a 10 just because I can’t find anything not to like about this film. It epitomizes what a family film should be, animated or otherwise.
I know 2016 has a lot of good movies on the horizon, and I’m excited about them. But Zootopia sets the bar high and is clearly the one to beat. I can’t recommend it highly enough.