(PG; 108 minutes; Walt Disney): It’s too bad the target audience for Disney’s “Zootopia” isn’t of voting age because there are issues here – about exclusion, prejudice, xenophobia, and women’s rights – that would fire up an electorate and make voters look twice at the candidates vying for the presidency. The computer-animated Disney movie, starring a feisty, saucer-eyed rabbit by the name of Judy Hopps (the voice of Ginnifer Goodwin), is set in the seemingly idyllic titular town, a place, the welcome sign proclaims, “where anyone can be anything” and where all the different mammals get along.
Judy is putting that slogan to the test: The diminutive bunny is a Police Academy cadet eager to prove her mettle. But there has never been a rabbit cop before, and the higher-ups don’t think she’s cut out for the job.
Apart from its anthropomorphic, allegorical angle, “Zootopia” is also a tale of female empowerment and a classic noir. Judy’s missing-mammal case proves to be a serial affair, labyrinthine and treacherous, with a “Godfather”-esque mobster (a teeny shrew) and a sinister, power-grabbing conspiracy.
Zootopia the town prides itself on its harmonious lifestyle – predators and prey alike walking the streets, sharing the buses, waiting in line at the DMV. “Zootopia” the movie shows how tenuous that kind of harmony can be, and how easily fear can be exploited, creating a chasm of suspicion and doubt and menace among people.
Contains some thematic elements, rude humor and action. Philadelphia Inquirer
(PG-13; 106 minutes; Universal): Created by Joel and Ethan Coen, those mighty monarchs of sendups and satires, this droll tribute to and spoof of Hollywood past amuses from beginning to end with its site specific re-creation of the studio system and the movies that made it famous. A hipster mash note to the way things used to be, it will put a smile on your face and keep it there for the duration.
Top-lined by Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes,Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, Channing Tatum, Frances McDormand and Jonah Hill, the film’s actors, up to and including even the smallest speaking parts, were as deliciously in on the joke as the Coens. The Coens’ smart script is filled with all manner of inside jokes and playful references to real people and places. But the great thing about “Hail, Caesar!” is that it is fun whether you get all its references or not.
There is also a nominal whodunit element to “Hail, Caesar!” involving the mysterious kidnapping of top star Baird Whitlock (Clooney at his daftest). But the actual plot centers on a day, circa 1951, in the life of Eddie Mannix (Brolin), the president of physical production for Capitol Pictures, the studio last seen in “Barton Fink.”
Although the brothers have at times seemed to be making films only for each other, “Hail, Caesar!,” a bit like “O Brother, Where Art Thou” before it, wants everyone near and far to come in and enjoy the party. They’re having the time of their lives, and we’re all fortunate enough to be invited to share in the fun.
Contains some suggestive content and smoking. Los Angeles Times
(R; 96 minutes; Starburns): Charlie Kaufman engages in yet another feat of sad and satirical fantasy about people trying to get out of their own heads. As the film opens, a customer-experience expert named Michael Stone is flying to Cincinnati to attend a professional convention. Michael (voiced by British actor David Thewlis) is portrayed by a stiff but eerily lifelike puppet, as is every other character in “Anomalisa.”
“Anomalisa” pivots around a chance meeting that Michael has with another traveler, a woman named Lisa, who – unlike the great wash of anonymous faces and voices around him – manages to connect with Michael on another, movingly specific level. As voiced by Jennifer Jason Leigh, Lisa is a vivid, poignant character, a woman whose insecurity and awkward sense of humor elicit almost immediate protective sympathy. Her a cappella version of “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” followed by perhaps the most disarmingly honest sex scene in the history of puppetry, brims with equal parts strangeness and sincerity.
Contains strong sexual content, graphic nudity and language. Washington Post.
Also out June 7
- “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi”
- “Touched with Fire”
- “Mr. Right”
- “Vinyl: Season 1”
- “IMAX: Journey to Space”
- “Rizzoli & Isles: Season 6”
- “The Other Side of the Door”
- “Duck Dynasty: Season 9”
- “Every Thing Will Be Fine”
- “Jarhead 3: The Siege”
- “Kill Your Friends”
- “Never Back Down: No Surrender”
- “Ricky and Morty: Season 2”
- “The Abandoned”
- “The Confirmation”
- “The Shannara Chronicles: Season 1”