The delightful animated feature Zootopia is nominated for a Golden Globe award. I can understand why. I enjoyed this film from beginning to end. It is a tale for our times.
Judy Hopps (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin) is a bunny with a dream. She wants to be the first bunny police officer in the bustling metropolis of Zootopia. The choice of the city’s name as Zootopia being a play on “utopia” was something that did not escape me. There, all the animals live in harmony, predators and prey alike.
Her parents reluctantly bid her goodbye after she graduates from the police academy. When Judy arrives in Zootopia, she is in for a rude awakening. Although qualified to be an officer, she is relegated to writing out parking tickets by the chief of police, Chief Bogo (voiced by Idris Elba).
Zootopia is a magical place. There are sections to the city, boroughs if you will, each having a different climate: subzero temperatures in Tundratown, a teeny tiny town of Little Rodentia for rodents, a rainforest, etc. Judy will of course visit all these places when she takes on a missing otter investigation. She even goes to (horrors!) a nudist colony manned by a yak named Yax (voiced by Tommy Chong). These scenes are priceless, as in most cartoons the animals wear clothing, and to find there is a park for nudist animals in Zootopia is just hilarious.
Along the way she meets a sly con man of a fox, Nick Wilde (voiced by Jason Bateman). He is a likable enough guy, despite his moneymaking schemes. Judy and Nick become friends, and team up to find the missing Mr. Otterton.
Meanwhile, something is wrong in Zootopia. Some of the predators are going crazy and attacking prey. “Why” is the question that everyone from Chief Bogo to Mayor Lionheart (voiced by J. K. Simmons) is asking. Will living in peace be something in the past, or will they find out what’s going wrong and fix it? You will have to watch to find out.
Parents and grandparents will recognize some not so subtle nods to popular film and TV culture during Judy’s hunt for the missing otter, and this just made the story that much more fun. Little kids won’t catch the references, but Judy will enchant them as she proves that she is much more than a little bunny, and that dreams do come true. You can grow up to be whatever you want!
I found the messages of tolerance and acceptance of diversity very welcome in this crazy year. Animated features often have a moral message of some sort and this is a good one.
The film is rated PG for some thematic elements, rude humor, and action. Take your kids and grandkids to see it, or at least rent it for a night at home with the usual popcorn and healthy drinks. You will be smiling, I guarantee it, just as much as the kids will, over this heartwarming story.