“Zootopia” message too strong



Judy and Nick try to crack a missing mammals case in the new film, “Zootopia”. It was released in theatres on March 4.


From the team that brought us “Frozen” and “Wreck-It Ralph,” comes an anthropomorphic tale chock-full of metaphors and fun characters to hook adults and entertain kids. “Zootopia” begins interestingly enough with some world building exposition.

Once-feared predators have evolved past their primal instincts into civilized mammals and live in peace and harmony with prey in the city of Zootopia, where dream-chasing Judy Hops (Ginnifer Goodwin) comes to town to become the first rabbit on the police force.

But as the wily con-fox Nick (Jason Bateman) tells her, not all dreams are meant to be. Soon, Judy is wrapped up in a mystery of missing animals with the reluctant Nick as her sidekick.

The investigation leads her to the darker parts of Zootopia, where she learns there is more going on than she ever imagined.

And that’s where “Zootopia” stops being fun.

Even from the beginning, there were already hints of the message the movie was preaching: the age-old morals of equality and the down-falls of racism and xenophobia.

While these are good messages to teach and nothing to be swept under the rug, “Zootopia” hits these topics harder than you would think for a movie aimed at children.

The way problems are portrayed isn’t violent or disturbing, but very ham-fisted and complex. So much so, that the message outweighs how funny or smart “Zootopia” could’ve been. Even the police work Judy and Nick get into has a noir-type feel to it that may come off as boring to kids.

The details and intricacies of the laws and regulations Judy goes through are very quick and thrown about, so much so that sometimes even I was unsure of what she was doing.

What could have been a clever “Animal Farm” approach to the big topics that “Zootopia” wants to talk about instead becomes a heavy-handed, metaphor-laden mess, both as a movie and as a social commentary.

Instead of a creative city (think Monstropolis from “Monsters Inc.”) filled with entertaining sights and sounds, we get a large, typical American city with the people turned into animals. While some people-to-animal conversions are funny and have their own wit, the overall humor in the movie is incredibly predictable.

However, Bateman and Goodwin offer some excellent voice acting. Bateman, in particular, steals the show as the smooth talking Nick. But the two character’s relationship is another failed writing aspect. Instead of a heart-warming, organic growth between the two, we get a buddy copz clichéd checklist that’s filled out along the way.

The lessons “Zootopia” throws out are not bad things to reflect on. But the substance-over-style really drags the film down from the equally creative and lesson-teaching romp it could have been.