Disney is producing more and more films that are aimed at children but are really for adults. We saw this with last year’s Inside Out, and we see it this year with Zootopia. It really is revolutionary for a medium that is finding that it has not yet reached its boundaries in storytelling.
Zootopia takes place in a world where animals all live in a civilized fashion, in cities and in towns. Predators and prey alike live peacefully, side by side. Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) is a bunny that lives in a small town, but aspires to be a cop. The problem is that prey animals (like rabbits) are usually relegated to much lower class jobs. But Judy is determined and through hard work she becomes the first rabbit cop in history; she is assigned directly to the big city of Zootopia. There she sees the great diversity of the city, but also the incredible amount of “specie-ism.” No one takes Judy seriously as a cop (she’s assigned parking duty). Separately something strange is happening in Zootopia, some animals are disappearing at random around the city. Judy falls into the investigation almost by accident, and along the way she meets a sly fox named Nick (Jason Bateman) who helps her out with the investigation.
The great underlying message in Zootopia is really about racism. There are many subtle lines that imply the clashes of races in the real world, and the overall plot also deals with the exclusion and division of animals based only on their natural appearance. Obviously the message reaches more adults than children, but nonetheless it is something incredibly important that will hopefully seep through.
The other great aspect of Zootopia is the incredible creativity that was put into creating the world of civilized animals. The originality is so abundant that you want multiple viewings in order to catch more of the subtle details. And then there are the adult movie references hidden inside the film itself from the likes of The Godfather and the TV show Breaking Bad that have most adults chuckling.
The pace at the end does seem to slack, giving the ending a very elongated feel, and the ending might be a bit too childish, but the great creativity spilling from Zootopia added to the subtle societal explorations make this a must-see.