Now on Netflix: Zootopia
Thanks to an exclusive deal with Disney from all the way back in 2012, Netflix gained the coveted streaming rights to some of the world's biggest franchises and studios, including Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars.
That deal went into effect for the first time this past weekend, when Zootopia, Disney's first major hit of 2016, premiered on the service.
On its surface, Zootopia as a concept is a little odd. In the giant city of Zootopia, a vast array of anthropomorphic animals, from the smallest rodents all the way up to the largest elephants, live in harmony together. This is particularly noticeable due to the fact that former enemies, both predators and prey, are able to live side by side without tearing one another apart. Although Zootopia sounds like a perfect place (as referenced in its name), all is not well beneath the surface. So learns Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin), a rabbit who moves from what equates to the Midwest to the big city in order to pursue her job of being a police officer. There's never been a rabbit on the ZPD, but Judy is soon embroiled in a missing animals case with the help of a fox grifter by the name of Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman).
For the first half of the film, Zootopia had me wondering how, exactly, it had come about. Why exactly set this movie in the world of animals? It was interesting, it laid a lot of groundwork in setting up its characters and its world, and was actually a neat little thriller/mystery for most of the film. But it wasn't until about halfway through, as the mystery starts to unravel, that it becomes clear why setting this movie in the world of animals was so brilliant. Zootopia covers a lot of ground, and it may just be the most important adult film for kids to come out in a long time, especially in today's political and social climate. At its heart, Zootopia is about fearing the other and vilifying what you don't understand. It's a much darker and more serious animated film than what I would have grown up with, but its important in the questions and discussions it can foster and bring up in young people. It's clever, it's funny, and it's got a great message beyond "do what you were born to do" - it's the best kind of film there is.
Plus, any kids film that gets away with a solid Breaking Bad reference is an A+ in my book.
Zootopia is available for streaming on Netflix now.