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Zootopia (2016)

In the the world of Zootopia (Zootropolis) animals of all shapes and sizes have evolved beyond their primal instincts to create a unified society. Despite this profound progress, many animal species are still stereotyped to fit a certain role. Such is the case with young rabbit Judy Hopps, who aspires to be a police officer (a job associated with much larger, tougher animals) instead of a farmer. Through her determination and perseverance, she is able to become the ZPD's first rabbit officer and moves to the shining city of Zootopia. But even in a city where anything is supposed possible, Judy continues to meet obstacles to her dream every step of the way. However, a missing animals case and a chance encounter with a sly fox named Nick Wilde,  may be the ticket Judy needs to break down barriers and make the world a better place.

Zootopia is a Disney CG-animated buddy comedy/drama co-directed by Byron Howard (Bolt, Tangled) and Rich Moore (Wreck It Ralph). The film’s talented voice cast includes Ginnifer Goodwin (Judy Hopps), Jason Bateman (Nick Wilde), Idris Elba (Chief Bogo), Jenny Slate (Dawn Bellwether), and Shakira (Gazelle) just to name a few. The film was already released in multiple different countries through the month of February, such as Belgium, Spain, France, and Italy. The United States marks the film’s March release with a wider European release set on March 25th.

When I saw the initial trailers to Zootopia, I had a gut feeling that it was going to be a very creative film. The idea of a cityscape made by animals for animals just sounded like a neat idea. That and dynamic between natural enemies coexisting seemed like a good scenario for a comedy. I already had a feeling I was in for a good film, but even after watching all the trailers, the film itself isn't just good. 

It is wonderful.

For starters, the world of animals that Zootopia creates, from the various districts of the titular metropolis to the abundance of characters that live there, is an inspired one. Each district explored in the film has an entire climate based around the animals that live there, such as Tundra Town a snowy landscape designed to fit the needs of the animal residence who came from cold habitats. There is even an entire section dedicated to the smallest residents of Zootopia (mice, shrews, hamsters and various other rodents) complete with tiny apartment buildings, trains and even plastic tube walkways. Everywhere you look in Zootopia, there is a new visual spectacle to enjoy and it’s easy to become enthralled with the place as much as its newest resident, Judy Hopps.

Speaking of Judy, the film doesn't waste any time introducing its tiny heroine and what makes her worth rooting for. To put it bluntly, Judy Hopps is a pint-sized badass. No matter what obstacles try to get in her way, physical or emotional, Judy’s drive to be the best cop she can be is what carries her through from one trial to the next. Her tenacity and optimism makes her a joy to watch, balancing out quite well with the smooth yet cynical Nick Wilde. 

While Judy is more concerned about making a difference regardless of her opposition, Nick has come to accept the social stigma that comes with being born as a fox. He is already expected to lie, cheat and steal so that is exactly what he does. He may not be as happy with this as he may let on, but he does what he can to survive in the less than perfect world.  The bond that Nick and Judy form is easily the highlight of the film, making them one of the best buddy cop duos I have seen in a long time.

One of the movies biggest surprises, that will have both kids and adults sitting up and paying attention, is the story’s ability to present the idea of social/racial stereotyping without being preachy. Despite what its name implies, Zootopia is far from perfect place. Animals may be able to coexist without eating each other, but there are still prejudices that exist between the difference species. Such as Nick being untrustworthy because he was born as a fox, or Judy being weak just because she is a rabbit.

The overall message the film presents is an important one, and kudos goes out to Byron Howard and Rich Moore for going the extra mile to not only telling the story well, but in a way that both kids and adults can appreciate. The film was inspired by anthropomorphic Disney films of the past, such as Robin Hood, and many classic buddy films. Much like those films, Zootopia is a fun, imaginative, and smart animated film that can entertain adults and kids alike. As for me, I sincerely hope to see more of the dynamic duo of Judy and Nick in their spectacular anthropomorphic world sometime in the future.

ZOOTOPIA is now available on Blu-Ray Digital and DVD in the US from Disney.