‘Zootopia’: Cute animals, big message

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‘Zootopia’: Cute animals, big message

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Directors Byron Howard (“Tangled”), Rich Moore (“Wreck It-Ralph” and “The Simpsons”), and co-director Jared Bush beautifully create a new world where predators and prey live in complete harmony in the film “Zootopia,” produced by Disney. With Ginnifer Goodwin (“Once Upon A Time” and “Something Borrowed”) voicing for a very determined and open-minded rabbit, Officer Judy Hopps, and Jason Bateman (“Arrested Development” and “Horrible Bosses”) voicing a fox, Nick Wilde, who is initially a confident con-artist, “Zootopia” explores the underlying theme of racism. It also proves that as long as you believe in your dreams, they can come true.

The film begins with Judy Hopps, who wants to become the first rabbit police officer in the city. Because the new mammal-inclusion initiative developed by Mayor Lionheart (J.K. Simmons) and the support from the assistant mayor of Zootopia, Dawn Bellwether (Jenny Slate), Hopps becomes the first rabbit police officer and gets transferred to the city center of Zootopia. An ecstatic Hopps dreams of a peaceful and inspiring future as she enters Zootopia, with the song “Try Everything” by Gazelle, voiced by Shakira, playing the background, as she enters the world that houses many species in various environments. But, Chief Bogo (Idris Elba), the Buffalo, who judges her by her small size, has other plans for her, assigning Hopps to parking duty, where she meets con-artist fox Nick Wilde. Determined to take on a real assignment, Hopps meets with Chief Bogo. During that time, she meets Mrs. Otterton (Octavia Spencer), who pleads with Chief Bogo to find her missing husband Duke Weaselton (Alan Tudyk), to which Hopps interferes and graciously accepts to take up the job. From there, Hopps drags Wilde on a journey to find the missing animal in 48 hours, from which a huge crime case unravels and tests the harmony set between the predators and prey.

The beauty of “Zootopia” shines through the amount of detail put into it. This is seen when Hopps first enters the world of Zootopia. The imaginary world consists of 64 different species, and the makers of the film were able to intricately re-create the different habitats of all them. This was seen best in the chase scene when Hopps runs from an environment with medium-sized prey and predators to the small world of the rodents, such as rats and hamsters. It is evident that artists performed thorough research on countless animals and their mannerisms, and the form in which they incorporated this information was a highlight of the movie.

The unforgettable humor of “Zootopia” also comes from the detail and how meticulous the makers were with making the animals as human as possible. At the beginning of the movie, the population counter of Hopps’ hometown is shown, and after she leaves the number decreases, but the number then continues to shoot up, mimicking the general rabbit population. After an elephant pun is mentioned, “Zootopia” continues to be a laughing riot, such as during the unforgettable DMV scene where all the employees are slow-moving sloths.

The highlight of this film, however, is the casting. The ensemble cast brilliantly gives a unique voice to each of the characters, producing humanistic and lively personalities for every animal. The characters are so realistic that the message of the story, which touches on themes of prejudice and intolerance, is strongly delivered.  “Zootopia” perfectly mixes both humor and an inspiring story to create an enjoyable film for audiences of all ages.