But even more compelling is the set up for the story. Zootopia is a city in which all the animal species live in relative peace, having “evolved” from their more savage predecessors. Prey and predator live in the same city, patronizing the same businesses, aspiring to jobs and housing, mates and families. Not that there aren’t some bad guys in the mix or we wouldn’t have a story here…
Zootopia’s protagonist is a female rabbit. We first meet Judy Hopps (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin) when she is still in school, aspiring to be the first rabbit police officer. Her parents are carrot farmers and have their doubts about Judy’s acceptance in the big city, but they do not squelch her dream. Judy goes to the police academy and eventually graduates with lots of media present to note the first rabbit in the force. Then she is off to the big city of Zootopia to launch her career.
Movie poster. Courtesy/Reel Deal Theater
Of course, all is not so easy for our bunny friend. In Judy’s first encounter with her boss, a water buffalo named Chief Bogo (voiced by Idris Elba), she gets assigned to traffic duty… yes, Judy is now a meter maid. Of course, being quick, she excels at it, but she yearns to be assigned to a big case—the disappearance of 14 animals. Reluctantly Chief Bogo gives her 48 hours to solve the case, which is hardly enough time, but there’s the story.
Tricked into helping her is a sly fox named Nick Wilde (voiced by Jason Bateman). The two of them have lots of adventures tracking down the bad guys. Along the way we are taken into a miniature neighborhood for small rodent species, a rainforest neighborhood, a polar neighborhood, and so forth. And, at one point, they meet the head of a crime syndicate, Mr. Big, a shrew, in a scene that is a hilarious send up of the Godfather theme.
I laughed a lot in this film and thoroughly enjoyed the cleverness of the world it creates. It will be hard to top Zootopia for the 2016 Oscar for Best Animated Feature. No matter your age or stage in life, my guess is you will enjoy this film. I may have to go back and see it again, just to catch all the inside jokes and details.
Zootopia is rated PG for some thematic elements, a bit of rude humor and action. The tension and violence of some scenes may be too much for pre-school through young elementary aged viewers, so parental caution is advised.