When I first decided to do movie reviews, there were a bunch of films I saw last year that I didn’t get a chance to review because I started in May. Well, I think it’s time I remedied that now. The film I’m going to be talking about is a film that pretty much won everyone over with its story, characters, and themes that are relevant in our chaotic, unorthodox times. It’s also considered to be Disney’s best modern animated film. This is Zootopia.
In a world of anthropomorphic mammals, a rabbit from the farm named Judy Hopps travels to the city of Zootopia in the hopes to be the first rabbit police officer. Along the way, she meets a con-artist fox named Nick Wilde and they both have to solve a mystery surrounding missing predatory mammals. This is a combination of a buddy cop story with a mystery as you have a by-the-rules straight man and a street-wise smart aleck who doesn’t play by the rules teaming up to uncover the mystery surrounding the missing predatory mammals. There’s also important themes woven into the story, which we’ll get to in a bit.
First, I want to point out that I appreciate the fact that all of the characters in this movie are mammals, which makes more sense than if you threw in every species and made them anthropomorphic. Anyways, our main characters. Judy Hopps (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin) is a little rabbit with big dreams of becoming a police officer for the Zootopia Police Department. She’s determined to accomplish her goals no matter what obstacles got in her way, whether it’d be her over-concerned parents or the cynical Chief Bogo (voiced by Idris Elba) or the even more cynical citizens of Zootopia themselves. The moment she becomes a police officer, she’s assigned parking duty and that’s when she runs into Nick Wilde (voiced by Jason Bateman). Nick Wilde is a fox who plays by his own rules as a con-artist (along with a fennec fox voiced by Deebo himself Tiny Lister Jr.). He and Judy are complete opposites, yet they have perfect chemistry with one another and they actually need each other’s expertise in order to solve the missing predatory mammals. One more irrelevant point: I’m glad that they remained just friends. I don’t ship these two like certain parts of the internet do because of two reasons: one, they’re two different species (don’t know if that sounds bigoted or not), and two, it’d be too cliched and predictable. Not every main male character and female character have to get together. Let them just be friends.
And now we’ve reached one of the big reasons why Zootopia has been praised as much as it deservedly is: the theme, mainly that of prejudice. Judy Hopps has always wanted to be a police officer since she was a little bunny, but she was doubted since a rabbit has never been a police officer. There’s a silly scene where Judy meets a fat cheetah police officer named Benjamin Clawhauser, who called her cute, which she doesn’t like because rabbits don’t like being called cute. How many of you have been in a situation where you said something that offended someone and you didn’t mean any malice about? In the case of Nick Wilde, when he was a pup, he wanted to be a Junior Scout Ranger, but since he was the only predator in the group, he was teased and bullied by the other Rangers, which explains why he is the way he is. After finding the missing predators and discovering that they were mysteriously going savage, Judy accidentally made the suggestion during a press conference that the predators went savage because of biology, which offends Nick. Then, the media takes her story and blows it out of proportion.
Because of all of this, discrimination against predators from both citizens and the police have increased throughout Zootopia. In the midst of this mayhem, Mayor Lionheart (J.K. Simmons) is arrested for his involvement in the missing predators scheme and the assistant mayor, Dawn Bellwether (Jenny Slate) becomes the new mayor. But then it turns out that she was the one behind everything; the missing predators, them going savage, the fear-mongering, etc. She’s using her power as mayor to turn all prey mammals against predators with the power of fear. Thankfully, there’s nobody in real life who uses fear and ignorance to gain a high position of power.
This is a very important film because it eerily reflects our society today. The discrimination against predators and prey parallels that to racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, and every kind of discrimination you can think of without beating it over your head. Major props to the writers for working in this touchy subject matter and making it entertaining at the same time.
I give Zootopia a perfect 10/10. This is the best animated film Disney has given us this decade, better than Tangled, Wreck-It Ralph, Big Hero 6, and yes, even Frozen. The animation is top-notch Disney, the story is timely and relevant, and the characters are memorable and fantastic. Outside of Try Everything, the song Shakira made for the soundtrack of the movie, I can’t think of any flaws that Zootopia has. It’s just a modern-day masterpiece in film-making and animation. This decade has pretty much been a Second Renaissance for Disney because I haven’t seen them make this many great films in a period of time like this since the 90s. I’m looking forward to seeing what they offer next and I’ll be giving Zootopia many more watches until the end of time.