Going wild for Zootopia

by Damaris Galeano (Staff Writer) – 3/17/16

Officer Hopps and Nick Wilde investigating to uncover a conspiracy
Officer Hopps and Nick Wilde investigating to uncover a conspiracy

It’s a jungle out there, quite literally, in Disney’s new animation movie Zootopia. Disney is once again raising the bar for all other talking animal movies and this movie is a triumph on every level. Zootopia combines cutting edge animation, likable yet deeply flawed characters, spot-on voice casting, and  animals to tell an allegorical story that reflects an ugly side of our own world right back at us while still being engaging and funny.

The plot follows Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin), the first rabbit lieutenant in Zootopia, who teams up with a con artist fox Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman), to solve a missing mammal case. In doing so, they uncover an epidemic of predatory animals going “savage” and seemingly giving in to their wild natures.

Zootopia has so much going for it. Sitting there watching it, I never noticed the time that went by. In fact, when the credits rolled up I wished it was longer. Also, the detail in the animation and the design of Zootopia itself, how its infrastructure accommodates animals of different sizes and species, is truly impressive. Ginnifer Goodwin and Jason Bateman are excellent as Judy and Nick. Idris Elba also deserves special mention for voicing the tough buffalo police chief, Bogo.

The plot is well-paced and full of genuine twists and turns, but what really sets Zootopia apart is its not preachy yet fearless take on bias. As Judy says in the epilogue, “Real life is messy.” The movie starts out focusing on the anti-rabbit prejudice that Judy faces but gradually shifts to anti-predator prejudice, which Judy herself harbors.

Zootopia confronts the uncomfortable reality that sometimes stereotypes and, consequently, suspicions, are founded, but it frames them as a result of the cycle of hatred. Judy mistrusts foxes, and Nick reinforces the “shifty, untrustworthy” fox stereotype, but both behaviors stem from valid childhood experiences. They’re both victims of bias who harbor biases themselves.

While the heavy social themes might not be everyone’s cup of tea, Zootopia is an exceptional film and a humorous one. But it also challenge us to take a long, hard look at parts of ourselves we like to think aren’t there.

To all those that worked on Zootopia, it conveys talent, intelligence, and passion to show that the best discussion about privilege and prejudice I’ve heard in a long time takes place in this animated movie between a talking rabbit and a fox.

All in all I give it 5 out of 5 bunnies.