Zootopia (2016)

Zootopia is the newest film to come out by Disney Animation Studios. The film follows a young female rabbit, Judy (Ginnifer Goodwin), as she transitions from the rural outskirts to the  the big city of Zootopia. The first of her family. Her dreams to become the first rabbit police officer come true after finishing police academy. Not only finishing the academy, but in the top of her class.  After arriving in Zootopia, Judy begins to learn that the big city is not what she expected.

Judy’s desire to thrive as part of the force causes her to have an eager attitude towards her duties. As a result, the police leadership pushes back. This results in the cliché task of solving the case in 48 hours or facing termination.  However, with no one to turn to, Judy teams up with the con artist fox, Nick (Jason Bateman), to solve the city’s missing animal mystery.  Thus forming the “unlikely”, although typical, criminal and cop duo. The ensuing crime plot unfolds with Judy and Nick teaching each other the important lesson of not “judging a  book by its cover”.

It is hard to imagine that a crime thriller about prejudice, corruption, and the viral spreading of misconceptions, could also be a family-friendly animated adventure comedy.  Zootopia brings a beautifully diverse world to life in a way that we are, these days, accustomed to expect from Pixar instead of Disney. Zootopia is an overt allegory for intolerance and how fear can be used as a weapon. It is also a story about perseverance and never letting others hold you back from achieving your dreams. All good messaging for kids and grownups alike.

The writers clearly had fun using the animals’ characteristics to build backstory.  The animals’ physical characteristics and tendencies were used as both a plot device, the sly con artist fox, or as comedic relief, the DMV staffed by sloths or the arctic shrew, Mr. Big.

The movie shows how intolerance and fear can erode society if it goes unchecked.  Additionally, the corruption of power and the use of drugs to spread misconceptions and hate seem like they would not blend well with a family picture.  However, this is something that animated films have been doing for years.  I am glad that animated film making is keeping up with the political climate. Exposing kids to the scarier aspects of society is important.  The film is a step in the right direction for Disney and I hope this is not an anomaly.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Directed by: Byron Howard , Rich Moore, Jared Bush

Cinematography: Matthias Lechner

Screenplay by: Jared Bush, Phil Johnston

Score by: Michael Giacchino

Starring: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, Jenny Slate

Runtime: 1h 48m

Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy

Distributed by: Walt Disney Animation Studios


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