Free Press Journal

Movie Review: Zootopia – A fable for fractious times 


Cast: Ginnifer Goodwin,Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, Jenny Slate,Nate Torrence, Bonnie Hunt (voices) 
Directors: Byron Howard & Rich Moore
Written for the screen by Phil Johnston,Byron Howard and Rich Moore’s Zootopia is a contemporary fable fleshed out by memorable creatures in a metaphor that is 100 percent relevant to our fractious, fractured times. The titular setting is a modern menagerie inhabited by all manner of species of animals who live in peace and harmony. Aesop apart, the Biblical prophecy of peaceful co-existence ( the lion shall lay down with the lamb) is clearly the source material: The herbivores are left alone by carnivores, even predators have abandoned their natural instincts. Even so, law-enforcement is required to curb transgressions. Into this latter-day Eden of anthropomorphic animals, comes a starry-eyed bunny (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin)  from a village, with dreams of making “the world a better place” as a cop.  Judy Hop’s dreams all but crash when her imposing boss Chief (Idris Elba) Bogo consigns her to traffic duty (doling out parking tickets) (The Beatles’ Pretty Rita Meter Maid should have embellished the soundtrack but doesn’t) In this time, she has gotten acquainted with the receptionist Benjamin (Nate Torrence) Clawhauser, the assistant Mayor Bell (Jenny slate) and a huckster fox Nicholas (Jason Bateman) Wilde whose backstory shows he’s had his share of hard knocks.But he has descended into cynicism, while Judy, thanks to a happy childhood, maintains an optimistic composure.
Sly fox and bright-eyed bunny  team up ( he,willy nilly) to solve a conspiracy that threatens the very fabric of the mammal metro. The investigation takes them (and the audience) into diverse habitats such as the upscale  Sahara Square and snow-blanketed Tundratown, and the government office staffed by sloths who take an entire day to process a small document.Needless to say,this amusing scene will resonate with the hard-pressed common man.
Zootopia is a beautifully drawn toon allegedly for children (who are bound to jump in their seats during the CGI action sequences)  but it’s grownups who will be edified by the theme of acceptance, tolerance, uncommon friendships, and overcoming prejudice through the via media of animals whose naturally adversarial interactions  change in due course, to an pleasing partnership. Zootopia shows that big doesn’t have to be brutish and smallness can be resourceful.Ultimately,it hits a bulleye with its message of the need for an accomodative spirit and how we should let go of our preconceived notions about people.