We've never even discussed Zootopia! What's wrong with us? (Don't answer) What follows is an off the cuff top ten. But consider this intro a number eleven plus: the joy of the movie is that it's not frontloaded at all continuing to offer delights all the way up to its concert finale in its fleet 108 minutes. So don't let this list feel complete: share your favorite things about it in the comments.
(This is assuming you loved it because everyone seems to)
TOP 10 DELIGHTFUL THINGS ABOUT "ZOOTOPIA"
10 Size Matters (in Comedy)
Lt. Judy Hopps, our heroine, would argue that it doesn't but it does. The animators and writers and filmmakers spin multiple jokes from the disparity in size of so many of the characters. And they've really worked the scale out. Few images in the movie radiated more comic bliss then watching a parade of conformist lemmings lining up for hundreds of miniature sweets made from one elephant sized dessert scoop.
09 Bunny Jokes
That throwaway line "your 275 brothers and sisters" and Judy's sly math joke later on "we're good at multiplying!"
08 Jenny Slate (and Other Voices)
Though TFE will always wish animated movies wouldn't rely so heavily on celebrity casts (two of the greatest voice performances of all time -- Pat Carrol as Ursula and Eleanor Audley as Maleficent -- could never have happened in our current movie climate) but they've found a good balance here. My personal favorite in terms of vocal work is Jenny Slate's squeaky fluster as the Assistant Mayor Bellwether but the actors are doing uniformly good work.
07 "What's with the howling?"
06 Gazelle's Concert
When I first saw an image of the tigers surrounding a shapely gazelle I assumed they were hungrily devouring with her eyes. In motion it's a different feeling entirely as expected lascivious tigers are transformed into muscle bound fey backup dancers like something from an actual pop diva's concert. (Do we think "Try Everything" will factor into the Best Original Song race?")
05 Multi-tasking Spoofs
When Judy joins the police force and her gruff leader Chief Bogo (Idris Elba) shouts out assignments to his officers, saving something inconsequential for Judy who has yet to prove herself, it conjures images of a thousand police procedurals but it's hardly the only familiar trope being gently twisted in this warm comedy: the most obvious spoof is of The Godfather but there are plenty such moments.
04 Story is Everything
Even if you removed the state of the art animation and replaced it with something cruder, even if they'd made major missteps in voice casting, even if it was missing half its jokes, Zootopia would still be a fun sit. The detective story if actually engaging. It's simple enough to follow (for kids) but complicated enough to offer both genuine surprises and silly amusing detours that aren't only for laughs, and all the scenes build toward satisfying character arcs.
I couldn't believe they went with such an aggressive stereotype joke (Sloths as slow DMV workers) in a movie about overcoming stereotypes but the sheer commitment of the roasting is awesome. As jokes about commonly held stereotypes go it's almost on the Avenue Q's "Everyone's a little bit racist" level. And that poor anxious pig trying to hold her smile for her driver's license photo had me guffawing. This gif above is a lie because it's sped up but the scene is great precisely for how long they dare to let it run.
02 Economy of World Building
So many blockbuster entertainments on screens large and small trip themselves up with exposition in an effort to help us understand the fantasy unfolding. Zootopia gets it all out of the way with two swift sequences, one funny and one beautiful: The first is the opening scene when baby Judy (soooo cute) play acts the founding of Zootopia with schoolmates when predators and prey left their old ways behind to live in peace together; the second is her gorgeous train journey to the city of Zootopia itself which conveys the idea of different climates and neighborhoods within neighborhoods for all creatures, great and small. Just the way human cities work really... minus the climate changes.
01 Judy (Ginnifer Goodwin) & Nick's (Jason Bateman) Friendship
Zootopia has won a lot of praise for it's thematic timeliness, taking aim at racism, prejudice and the beauty of unity through diversity. (Though, really, when have these themes not been necessary and timely? *sigh*) As a message movie it's not particularly subtle but the all ages ready lesson of getting to know someone before reducing them to stereotypes and looking past biology to actual individual character is damn beautiful. I particularly love the scene where Judy and Nick square off about his ethically shady work. You think he's outsmarted her at first until she whips out extra paperwork. She's no dumb bunny.
The climactic scene where you fear Nick will go feral on his friend is frightening in direct measure to how earned the friendship feels by the end of the movie.
Your turn. What did you think of Disney's new hit?