Welcome to the urban jungle.
From all the reviews this thing got, it hardly sounds like it needs another put to the mix. Zootopia was, as far as everywhere I saw, pretty much universally agreed on as being a good - if not great - movie. Another ball park hit by the old Disney movie machine. To be honest, it's been on the "to watch" list for quite some time, and I just keep putting it off and putting it off - but tonight, that's no more. Put on your leopard print and gather the family, it's time to hop to it.
I've got to admit, there's a few puns in this movie - and I like that. There's also some of that crass humor you would expect - comments like "rabbits know how to multiply" and the sort. It's to the extent that it's probably safe enough for the younger audience - but as with anything of that sort it's kinda of up to the parents to determine that. The joke that feels like the lowest blow is probably the toilet gag towards the beginning that puts a literal spin on "falling in," but it's still a bit classier than your normal fart and pee jokes you get in a lot of kid's flicks - not that I have anything against farts, those are hilarious. So long story short, there's some hits and there's some misses with the humor, but for the most part it should at least be a chuckle here or there for the average person.
The animation holds up quite nicely, and the movie is "shot" quite well. It's not like there's really a human sitting there with a camera and moving it along or anything with all the CG going on, but the "camera" follows and tracks along scenes in ways that feels pretty natural to movies. There's nothing so intensive as far as per-scene cuts that it's as laughable (or as agitating) as the fence-hopping scene in Taken 3, but it still utilizes cuts to help along some visual gags or progression. It's all rather easy to keep focused on - something that's probably a good thing for a younger audience - even though the movie is incredibly colorful in many sections.
Outside of the opening monologue that gets rolled into a play by the main character whilst she's still young setting up the general premise of the universe, the movie keeps everything recognizable and relatable enough that heavy exposition isn't really all that needed. This really helps keep things flowing and from bogging down to much as things play out. This isn't to say that there aren't some slow moments where the entire intention is probably just to show of the world or that it lacks scenes without action to build up characters - those are certainly there, it just never feels too much like it's droning on uselessly with scenes that could or should have been left on the cutting room floor.
The moral center of this Disney foray can really feel at times like it's trying to beat you over the head with it. Bully, diversity, stereotyping - all things that this day and age seem to love bringing up in a one-sided fashion - are front and center all over the place. It works within the world and story as presented, but that doesn't necessarily make it feel any less heavy handed when they call it out numerous times. Still, accepting each other and following your dreams are important things for most developing people - regardless of how many may abandon them - so there's by far more annoying things they could have gone with - heck, the old "power of love" is pretty much completely absent from this and if nothing else that is pretty refreshing in it's own right.
The actors do a good job voicing the characters, and the animation helps make them feel more alive. Little motions that you might not even notice - such as the little nose of the bunny sniffing away - help to really make it more impressive than it looks at face value, and it isn't like that face value particularly looked bad to begin with. The main character probably has the most development outside of her sidekick for most the movie, even though when you start off as "I can make the world a better place" and end at "I can make the world a better place", most of that development feels more like it comes from a better understanding of what it takes to do so rather than an actual journey through character traits that we normally feel from development.
The mystery of the plot is actually handled pretty well. Although by the time you get to the first reveal you have a decent map in your head as to how it will play out, and the astute bunch will probably be able to pick out the main villain long before it becomes super obvious around the end, most of the "see it coming" comes more from character interactions and their relationships than to the actual mystery side of things. It would almost really lend itself well to smaller-scale sequels more akin to a crime-of-week cop series after it's somewhat larger scale movie events. And don't you think I didn't catch what you did naming your otter movie - I have that jug band DVD in my cabinet, intentional easter egg or not.
Overall, this is a pretty enjoyable movie that should be fun (and safe) for the family. It's got good pacing, with action mixed with slower detective moments, as well as plenty of jokes (hit or miss) to try and keep your attention. It's soundtrack is a bit generic pop-style of the modern non-musical animated movie, although nothing nearly as catchy as Everything is Awesome or that likes to haunt you for the rest of your week. It's pretty well put together, if it it really isn't anything super-off the rails of cliches or generic "don't stereotype and bully people" morals. Probably worth a rent for most, potentially a buy for others.