Appearances are deceiving in Zootopia. The movie’s premise is that, while in the past there existed predator and prey, in the present animals are like us: they wear suits and ties, they listen to pop music, they play on their iPhones. The main character, a bunny (Ginnifer Goodwin), aspires to be the first bunny police officer, a profession reserved for bigger, burlier types, like rhinos and bears. Even after graduating the police academy top of her class, she runs into institutional discrimination once she joins the force, being relegated to meter maid duties. The plot turns when the bunny is tasked with solving a crime in 48 hours, and she joins forces with a fox (Jason Bateman), whom she is wary of. Using the tropes of a noirish police procedural, Zootopia is somewhat predictable. But the way that Disney has reworked the cop tale is funny, refreshing, and geared toward adults: sloths run the D.M.V., there are Breaking Bad and Godfather references. When the bunny earnestly tells the fox that he’s articulate, the fox replies, with a hint of sarcasm, that it’s great to hear a non-patronizing compliment. Thematically Zootopia is an aspirational narrative that lightly preaches a we’re doing the best we can optimism. Visually it is gorgeously rendered, with careful attention paid to the smallest whisker and paw.
By Alec Julian & Carrie White