- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 9, 2016

Disney attempts to corner the big-budgeted, anthropomorphic, animated-animal adventure market with Zootopia (Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, Rated PG, $39.99, 109 minutes).

Of course, the company succeeds, and the film’s Blu-ray debut means the blockbuster that has taken in almost $1 billion dollars worldwide now allows us sheltered home theater folk to appreciate its cornucopia of computer-crafted, colorful characters.

Our stars are creatures, large and small, dressed as humans, talking like humans and walking like humans while existing in the big city of “Zootopia.”

The story focuses on a young Leporidae named Judy Hopps (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin) and her aspirations of becoming the first rabbit cop in that burgeoning metropolis.

Her dreams come true, sort of, but to be taken seriously she’ll need to crack a big case with help from a red fox named Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) by finding a missing otter and solving the mystery of predators going savage.

I’m glad to report the chuckles are often. In fact, gags such as elephants using their trunks to scoop ice cream, a pack of pudgy mice eating pawsicles, sloths working at the DMV (Department of Mammal Vehicles) and a crime boss named Mr. Big (of course a shrew with a Marlin Brando impersonation) are laugh-out-loud funny.

A massive voice-over cast helps bring the animals to life and also features Bonnie Hunt as Judy’s mom, J.K. Simmons as Mayor Leodore Lionheart and Tommy Chong as Yax, a relaxed Yak.

This “Hill Street Blues ” wild kingdom offers kid-friendly themes of empowerment, hard work, understanding and tolerance while mixing in the steady stream of humor and heart.

And, much like all of Disney’s digitally animated Blu-ray releases, the movie is so stunningly crafted that it looks 3-D even on the most average resolution of television monitors.

Fur is the digital specialty here, brought to frightening life on bunnies, foxes, lions, sheep, camels, polar bears, gerbils, fat cheetahs, buffaloes, porcupine, pigs, weasels and otters, to name more than a few.

However, I was bummed by the non-screen-filling, black-bar-annoying presentation (a 2.29:1 aspect ratio).

Although not as innovative as Pixar’s “Inside Out,” or endearing as “Frozen,” “Zootopia” is still a solid and entertaining effort for the entire family.

Once that main feature ends, youngsters and adults will appreciate the variety of extras offered in the disc.

They include a 10-minute journey for the directors and animators to Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park to study elephants, cheetahs and giraffes, and a visit to Africa to explore the savannah and observe its citizens.

Next, we get 9 minutes on the evolution of the “Zootopia” story, with directors Byron Howard and Rich Moore, loaded with early concept art of the original themes.

Better yet, a roughly 20-minute, three-part roundtable with around a dozen production staff discussing character development, the eclectic environments of the “Zootopia” city and the animation process focused on the amazing fur with details down to how light, water and air reflects and affect hair.

More eclectic extras start with a quick look at the deleted characters (gerbil jerks driving a red sports car, a paranoid female honeybadger and an old, meter maid goat) and seven not fully developed deleted scenes all explained by Mr. Howard and Mr. Moore.

Finally, viewers get 3 minutes worth of Easter egg reveals found in the movie such as robot Baymax’s head (from “Big Hero 6”) is a car antennae topper or showing various images of Mickey Mouse cleverly disguised in many a character, item or location.

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