Stars: Jennifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Edris Elba, J.K. Simmons, Octavia Spencer, Shakira, Alan Tudyk, Jenny Slate, Bonnie Hunt, Don Lake.
Directors: Byron Howard, Rich Moore & Jared Bush.
Screenplay: Jared Bush & Phil Johnston.
Judy Hopp (Jennifer Goodwin) is an optimist in her outlook on life, she has an open mind even though she was brought up in a narrow world. Judy is an optimist but even she can still fall into the pattern of narrow-mindedness.
Zootopia starts with Judy wanting to become the first ever Rabbit cop. Everyone around her including her parents, peers, and instructors don’t believe that she could do it. This comes from years of expectation and ignorance in not believing that a small little bunny could ever be more than a carrot farmer. Though the world continuously says that all mammals are equal and living peacefully—predator and prey together—there is still the underlying fear that predators are still a threat.
Judy becomes the first bunny cop and heads to Zootopia from her rural town—after her parents give her Fox pepper spray, you know for just in case… On her first day she is assigned to parking tickets, a low blow for the best candidate at the police academy. This continues her struggles as being seen as inferior to the more abled species. However, Judy does the best job she can on the job. In doing this she sees a Fox (Nick Wilde played by Jason Bateman) looking sly and her bias starts a ticking. She follows him into an elephant ice cream parlour only to ‘discover’ that he simply wants to buy his kid an ice cream but the elephant refuses his service. She buys the ice cream for them but then later finds out he was hustling to off-sell it anyway; her initial bias CONFIRMED.
Though they end up working together to solve a ‘missing mammals’ investigation and Judy starts to see that her bias only has grounds because of the way the world sees and treats Foxes (the flashback to his youth really tugs at the heartstrings). Though she has learnt to trust and see past her bias for him, this does not flow onto her perspective on the rest of the predator animal family.
This film has a lot to say, about how ‘good cops’ have to see the reality of the world to protect the citizens best, to assumptions that have been built from prejudice and fear over the years that has never been openly addressed. This film is not holding back on its punches, for a kids film it is expressing complex societal issues that are plaguing us in the real world. It is creating an open dialogue on issues of race, police bias, and general fear of the ‘other’. These are complex issues, and our protagonist is not immune to thinking incorrectly about the people around her, even if she is morally a good person. We are all good, but on a day to day basis we and society must check our own biases or privileges.