Everyone has the ability to become anything they desire, and no one should stop someone else from chasing their dreams. These are the central themes and recurring messages of Zootopia, the latest digital animation feature from Disney, and though they lack depth they provide ample room for the house that Mickey Mouse built to remind the world why they are a leader in family-friendly entertainment.
Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) has spent her entire life hoping to become the world’s first bunny police officer. After graduating at the top of her class from the academy, Judy lands a job working in the center of Zootopia, a sprawling city where animals from all walks of life live side by side just as people do here on Earth. It’s a sight unlike anything you have ever seen, featuring 12 interconnected communities suited to the needs of various animals, and Judy is assigned to work in the heart of it—as a meter maid. While the mayor may believe in Judy, and she may believe in herself, but the predators who currently run law enforcement disagree.
Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman), a fox who has never had a real job, was perfectly happy before he met officer Hopps. A lifelong hustler, Nick crosses paths with the film’s protagonist after she inadvertently learns of a popsicle scam Nick has been pulling with his longtime partner, Finnick (Tommy “Tiny” Lister). He doesn’t like Judy, and she doesn’t really care for him, but after Judy is told she has just 48 hours to solve a crime involving a missing otter the two must work together in order to crack the case.
Once the characters are established and the hunt for answers begins, Zootopia pivots ever-so-slightly from a tale of achieving dreams to something resembling a crime procedural written with children in mind, like an all-ages take on Law And Order. Judy and Nick explore the city, zone by zone, uncovering clues and interviewing persons of interest. Some leads prove more beneficial than others, but each new encounter provides ample room for the team at Disney to explore the endless possibilities of the world they have created, which is when the film truly starts to shine.
Among the people and sights witnessed during the course of Judy and Nick’s investigation is a nudist colony run by a forgetful yak, a DMV that only employs sloths, a tiny town bustling with rodents in three-piece suits and a mysterious mafia figure who hides behind polar bear security guards. This, in addition to what feels like hundreds of additional characters with extremely brief though often quite amusing appearances that each help fill out the world of Zootopia in ways that are sure to appease even the most imaginative minds. Zootopia is alive in every sense of the world, and the feeling that you are not just witnessing a story, but another world altogether, is what will have people talking about this film for generations to come.
Though the aim of the film is clear from the opening scene, Zootopia is a refreshing new addition to the ever-growing catalog of Disney animated films. It seems like there are new stories being released every other week with anthropomorphic animals learning lessons about how to be the you that you truly are, but rarely have those tales been as wonderfully imagined as the land of Zootopia. Even those who lose interest in the plot will be unable to look away from the cavalcade of brilliantly rendered creations that come and go in ever scene. They, like you, will want to live in Zootopia. It’s everything we tell ourselves our world can become, and one can only hope that message resonates in the hearts and minds of every person who is lucky enough to see it.