Two thousand fifteen marked the first year in almost a decade without a release from Walt Disney Animation Studios. But luckily with Zootopia, Disney’s newest film, the wait was worth it.
Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) is a bright-eyed bunny who dreams of joining the Zootopia police department. Despite prejudice from those around her, through hard work she overcomes and becomes the squad’s first bunny cadet. However, due to a boss who stereotypes her for her size, she gets assigned to write parking tickets all day long as a glorified meter maid–not quite what the job she worked for all her life. Still, she puts on a grin and bears it, doing the best she can, but still yearns to make the world a better place by stopping bad guys. One day, she stumbles on a clue to a case, and with the help of a sly, con artist fox, Nick (Jason Bateman), the two embark on a mission to discover why a large group of mammals have gone missing across the city.
Zootopia has everything you’ve come to expect from a Disney animated film–great characters, fantastic story, hilarious moments, and twist and turns–however, the biggest delight in this film is the fact that it’s a buddy cop, mystery story. Judy is fearlessly optimistic about the new world of Zootopia, while Nick is a hardened Zootopia old timer who tries to put her in her place. Because of this, once they do start working together, Judy and Nick end up contrasting each other quite nicely.
One of the highlights of the film is the expansive city itself, as Judy and Nick bounce from one location to another. There’s Tundratown where all the arctic animals dwell, Sahara Square, and even an underground lair of a mob boss. There are suburbs and accommodations for the smallest of rodents to the tallest of giraffes. The film’s visuals are so clever that you’ll find yourself chuckling at almost everything you see. While there are pop culture references (there’s even a pop star named Gazelle who steals the airwaves), everything feels appropriate and natural for this modern animal metropolis.
The film has a wonderful, and timely, message about prejudice, acceptance, and tolerance. Although the animals have shred their feral ways and now are living peacefully in the city, in the back of some former prey animals’ heads is fear of their former predators. Also from the first few scenes, we see how the deck is stacked against Judy since bunnies are not destined for the police force. Even Nick has to overcome society’s perceptions that foxes are sly and not to be trusted. Each character you meet is complex and struggles with his or her own insecurities, making Zootopia even more layered and a pleasure to watch.
Whatever your plans are this weekend, cancel them and go see Zootopia. Whether you are young or old, single or taken, mammal or reptile, this film has something for everyone and will undoubtedly be yet another classic in the Disney canon.
Also, check out our interview with Zootopia producer Clark Spencer here.
Edited by: Hannah Wilkes