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In the past ten years computer generated children’s movies have become the norm. You can’t get through one year without an animal cartoon featuring various species attempting to (unnaturally so) harmonize in a utopic society, a zoo, or animals trying to immerse themselves in to the wild. The plot varies slightly but all in all, it’s the same. The plots have proven to be dry and uninteresting as an adult watcher. Some of my all time favorite films are intended for children but even I know if the kids I babysit aren’t enjoying it, well it’s not worth it.
Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) is a bunny from a small town but moves to the metropolis of Zootopia, in pursuit of becoming one of the top police officers on the force. This is something that has never been done by an animal of that particular species. Eventually her path crosses with Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman), a very sly fox who embodies the very stereotype. The film is colorful, rich with details, funny, and full of important lessons for children to learn. The world of Zootopia does a wonderful job of explaining biases between prey and hunters as well as the all too familiar premise (for the adult viewers) of stereotypes. Heavy topics for a children’s cartoon about a utopic zoo society appear throughout the story.
Zootopia is the epitome of a melting pot with various “burrow” like sectors of the city including Tundratown, Rainforest District, Meadowland, Canal District, Sahara Square, Savanna Central, and Little Rodentia. Each burrow has advertisements inspired by real life cooperation’s like Apple and Coke, specifically marketed to the animals that inhabit that region. In short, the art team had too much fun making this look as real as possible causing you to spend much of your time trying to find as many details as possible.
The jokes were fresh and creative and the plot was one of the more interesting ones Disney has produced in recent years. A job well done for the Zootopia team, this film is a great introductory course for children in learning about prejudice and bias but not in an overbearing way that preaches.
With so many production companies tapping into the children’s market, sometimes it feels like Disney struggles to stay afloat. Once you reach the top, it can be difficult to stay there. Zootopia reminds us all why Walt Disney will always be innovative in both execution and quality. This film manages to be enjoyable for children as well as adults alike. It lies in their ability to remain relevant while touching on topics of pressing issues. There’s a lot we, as humans, can learn about cohabitating from the citizens of Zootopia.

I also had the opportunity to sit in on a presentation given by the person in charge of art direction for Zootopia as well as interview him. My article featuring Matthias Lechner can be found right here.

Zootopia is streaming now on the following services:
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