In Zootopia (co-dirs. Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Jared Bush, 2016) we are given a utopia in which animals long ago agreed to put aside their inborn instincts and live together in peace and harmony. Even so, not everyone in this fantasy world is treated equally. Foxes are stereotyped as sly and dishonest. Rabbits are regarded as too small and weak to serve on the police force. Everyone makes fun of, or is exasperated by, the slow-moving sloths. The film focuses on a young female rabbit, Judy Hopps, who wants to be a police officer, and on the fox, Nick Wilde, who eventually becomes her friend and ally. The lessons here, aside from the overall lesson of peace and harmony blah blah blah are that in the city of Zootopia everyone can achieve their dreams and that people (that is, animals) shouldn’t be stereotyped. Another lesson pertains to race and racial differences—whatever one’s racial, or spec-ial character, he or she should be treated like everyone else. These are all lessons our world could profit by. In fact, they are so commonplace that it’s easy to ignore them and just to be entertained by the colorful, fast-moving, and witty film. Maybe, however, given the young audience the film is partially aimed towards, the lessons are worth repeating. For the adults who watch this film with the children (or without them) there is much to be entertained by.
The film does invoke its own stereotypes—a heavy and slow-talking hillbilly fox is an example.
Although the plot is an old one—a character who wants to prove that, in spite of the expectations of everyone around her, she can be the person she wants to be, it’s the execution that makes this film so pleasantly watchable.