The latest Disney blockbuster is “Zootopia”, featuring the vocal talents of Ginnifer Goodwin and Jason Bateman. Unlike most Disney films, however, this is not your simple, cutesy animated feature. There is much more to it than meets the eye. That’s why it’s the ideal family film.
Protagonist Judy Hopps (voiced by Goodwin) is a vibrant bunny on a mission: to become a cop, leave her home and live and work in Zootopia. In Zootopia, a city consisting of various habitats and animals living peacefully among each other, anyone can be anything.
Police Chief Bogo and all the much larger veteran officers on the force don’t make Judy’s job as a cop easy. Much to Judy’s chagrin, Chief Bogo assigns Judy to meter maid duty. While passing out parking tickets Judy encounters Nick Wilde, a street-wise sly fox. She quickly learns that no matter how charming, never trust a fox.
After nabbing her first criminal and unknowingly saving the life of the daughter of a character who will be important later in the movie, Judy is presented with an opportunity to find the missing Emmett Otterton, one of fourteen missing mammal cases in Zootopia. Chief Bogo gives Judy forty-eight hours to prove herself.
With only a picture of Emmett eating one of Nick Wilde’s quick money-making scheme “pawpsicles”, Judy seeks out the assistance of the reluctant fox. With a little manipulation, Judy successfully gets Nick to work with her.
One of Nick’s little clues leads the pair to the Zootopia DMV, which sets the scene for what is probably the funniest part of the movie. All I’m going to tell you is that the DMV is appropriately run by a bunch of sloths.
The trail takes viewers all over Zootopia, experiencing everything from a nudist camp for animals (who knew they were naked?) to Mr. Big’s lair (he is the grateful Godfather-type figure whose daughter Judy had saved).
With the final clue of “night howlers”, Nick and Judy discover the hideout where the missing mammals are being held. One thing all the victims have in common: they seem rabid. Although they have found the missing, Judy and Nick still don’t know why the animals are acting like they are.
Out of frustration and retaliation from Chief Bogo, Judy leaves Zootopia and returns to her family’s farm. While there she learns the truth behind “night howlers”. She returns to Zootopia to finish the job she started. With Nick’s help Judy reveals to the Zootopia community what has caused predator animals who were once living peacefully among their prey to suddenly go crazy, causing fear among the other animals.
Throughout the movie Judy learns of Nick’s past and his experience with being bullied. She then understands why Nick is like he is. Despite their differences, Nick and Judy become friends and when Nick joins the police force, they become partners.
Aside from the entertainment aspect, “Zootopia” has many current event parallels, subtly reflecting on everything from diversity, acceptance of others and then the lack of acceptance, the creation of fear because of lack of understanding, drug use (the “night howlers” are a poisonous flower which are grown in a meth-lab type setting), and even gun use.
I love the fact that the main character is a female determined to be what she wants and stops at nothing to get it. I love that Nick overcomes his inferior feelings and realizes that he too can be anything he wants to be. It is, after all, Zootopia where anyone can be anything.