Zootopia was released in theaters on March 4, 2016 and is no doubt one of the most memorable animation films of the year.
Although it is an animated film, Zootopia is packed with powerful messages about racial and social injustice, self-confidence, and perseverance. This movie will make you experience a range of emotions and it will also make you think. The film centers around a small-town bunny named Judy Hopps, who has one goal in life from childhood, and that is to be a police officer in the big city of Zootopia.
Zootopia is a place where all animals, both predators and prey, live and work in harmony and peace. However, everything is not as it seems and it is up to Judy and her unlikely companion Nick Wilde to expose the corruption and injustice within the city and set things right.
Judy Hopps, who is voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin (Big Love, Once Upon a Time), is likable from the very start of the film. She is small and definitely over zealous, but she has a big heart and truly desires to make a positive impact by helping others. Judy is different from everyone else around her. She has cautious and small-minded parents who would rather see her forego her dreams and carry on the family business. Then there is the neighborhood bully in her childhood who tries to make her doubt her self-worth.
The odds are already stacked against Judy: she is one of the smallest animals, she is from a rural town outside of the big city and there has never been a bunny cop before her. Being female makes it even more unlikely that Judy will achieve her goals, so when she does triumph it is a nice reminder for little girls everywhere that their dreams are valid and attainable.
The relationship between Judy and Nick, who is voiced by the witty Jason Bateman (Arrested Development, Horrible Bosses) is highly improbable. Almost from the beginning of the film there are comments made about foxes being shady, untrustworthy and generally up to no good. While Judy is law-abiding and honest to a fault, Nick the fox is a little rougher around the edges. He has been marginalized so much and so often by society that he has allowed others’ perceptions of him to become his reality. Upon meeting and forming a friendship with Judy, Nick realizes that he does not have to perpetuate the stereotype because he is not the stereotype.
I really liked how these two characters are so different from one another. Their differences are actually the best part of their friendship. Like all of the best duos, (Buzz and Woody, Marlin and Dory, and Donkey and Shrek), Judy and Nick come together and find that each has more in common with the other than they assumed. This teaches children the value of making friends from different backgrounds, cultures, and races.
It is actually ironic that the film is set in a city called “zootopia”, which is an amalgamation of the words “zoo” and “utopia”. There is a lot of talk about harmonious living and equality for all, but the reality is that is not the truth. Just like in our society today, some of the animals are looked down on and unfairly stereotyped. Again, this may be a children’s movie, but it explores some pretty deep ideas.
Zootopia is extremely well put together. The animation itself is fantastic. All of the characters are brought to life in such a beautiful and realistic way and there are plenty of laughs for both children and adults. The themes and underlying messages make this film undeniably relevant in 2016.
This film will warm your heart and hopefully spark frank conversations among movie-goers.
Zootopia also features the talented voices of Idris Elba, Jenny Slate, Octavia Spencer, J.K. Simmons, and Shakira. Currently available on On Demand as well as DVD and Blu-ray.