I used to love Disney movies. I can remember paying money to sit in the theatre in 1991 (sans children) to watch the first release of Beauty and the Beast.

It was clever, entertaining, and magical; arriving right on the heels of the amazing animated musical that broke an almost 20 year Disney drought in 1989 – The Little Mermaid. 

The next nine years produced some remarkable and ground breaking movies for Disney. Aladdin – 1992, The Lion King – 1994, Pocahontas – 1995, Toy Story – 1995 and Mulan – 1998 (we will conveniently forget The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules and Tarzan) – it seemed for a while that the studio could do no wrong.

Then came a bleak period of truly terrible movies – The Emperor’s New Groove, Monsters, Inc., Lilo & Stitch, and okay, I’ll say it . . Cars. Yikes!

I had mostly given up on Disney, but the trailers for Zootopia won me over, and I decided to give them one more go. Well, let’s just say that with this film, “Disney’s got its groove back”.

What has always made a Disney movie great is that it plays equally well on two levels – one that is light, fast moving, and colourful for the kids, and a second written only for the adults, full of nuance, humour, and wit. 

Zootopia takes place in a seemingly utopian world (hence the name Zootopia) run by mammals who have learned how to live and work (mostly peacefully) together. 

The story is classic old Hollywood detective: Eager country bumpkin bunny (Judy Hopps, convincingly played by actress Ginnifer Goodwin who sounds a lot like Jennifer Tilly) is determined to become the very first bunny police officer in the metropolis of Zootopia. Despite her diminutive size, she uses her brains and sheer determination to make the force, amid colleagues who include rhinos, lions and elephants. Much to her chagrin, she is plagued not only by sexism, but “sizeism”, and is relegated to being a meter maid.

Enter the sly fox (Nick Wilde, artfully played by Jason Bateman) who she busts for making his living in a complex and ingeniously intricate scheme marketing bootlegged popsicles. 

Despite a rocky start, they eventually find that she needs his street smarts to help solve the mysterious disappearance of animals in Zootopia, and to bust an elaborate political scandal reminiscent of the worst type of public opinion manipulation schemes.

Zootopia tackles some incredibly tough issues, and handles them easily without getting preachy: Gender bias, racism, political corruption, and intellectual elitism. The characters are exceptionally well cast and the dialogue is pithy and engaging. There are a few moments in the film (specifically the guard wolves and the DMV sloths) that are laugh-out-loud funny.

This film is by far the best Disney movie I’ve seen since 2009’s Up. A non-musical Disney, the one song featured in the film is worth mentioning – "Try Everything", sung by Shakira, who is cleverly portrayed as pop star Gazelle. 

Here’s hoping Zootopia ushers in a new era of creative and impactful animated films made to last beyond Happy Meal toys and Halloween costumes.

I give this movie . . . five BIG hearts.

Movie locations and times


Netflix Recommendation

Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me

This documentary gives an honest and stark view into the journey of a man who has become a shadow of his former self, due to advanced Alzheimer’s. 

On stage, Glen Campbell is still able to sing and play, but his disease has reached a point where he can no longer recognize his own daughter who is there performing with him. It is remarkable that he is able to remember the arrangements. 

There are many scenes on the road with his wife, daughter, and band, but I would have liked to see a little less “happy happy controlled environment” in this film and delve a little into the darker and more trying side of what living with an Alzheimer’s person is like. We never really know what lurks beneath the charming and affable grin when he’s not performing, but perhaps that is an allegory in itself into the life of a performer.

It’s worth watching.


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About the Author

Kim Foreman-Rhindress is a graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City and London Western Conservatory of music for piano and voice. 

Kim has been performing in theatre and film for over 30 years in Canada, NYC, Palm Beach, Los Angeles, and the Netherlands. She has written several plays which have been produced in Canada and the U.S., and is the founder of Kelowna Voice Lab - helping people find their voice, be it singing or acting. 

A working musician, she performs regularly in Kelowna with her husband, Jim Rhindress, in an acoustic duo Smitten, and with her vintage trio Kitsch 'n Sync.  

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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