Film Review: Zootopia

By Ariel Russ

Zootopia is an entertaining, family friendly film, that showcases the various animal members of an anthropomorphized society that is full of witty animal puns and creativity. Thrust into a world of diversity, the viewer can relate to many of the themes showcased in the film.

Judy Hopps is a charismatic, passionate, and idealistic rabbit who dreams of one day becoming a police officer. With hardwork and determination, Hopps earns a position in the Zootopia Police Department, which is traditionally composed of larger species. She befriends a sly fox named Nick Wilde, and helps crack the case of missing animals who are wreaking havoc on the town’s long-established peace and tranquility. Along the way, Hopps learns that benefitting society at large is more important and more difficult than she anticipated.

In the city of Zootopia, different neighborhoods and varied climatic zones like rainforests and tundra, cleverly weave together the urbanized and wild environments in elaborated detail. Moreover, Zootopia is teeming with stereotypes like energetically breeding rabbits and more accurate depictions of animal behavior like slow sloths.

While the film teaches the viewer about the predator-prey dynamics in the city of Zootopia, what it fails to address are certain environmental aspects. The film could have benefitted from creating a more realistic harmonized animal kingdom that was less urbanized. Zootopia could have been used to showcase the resourcefulness of animals with respect to scouring for food or creating shelter rather than showcasing animals operating flower shops and visiting ice cream stores, which would demonstrate the sacredness of the animal since this “wildness” is what creates the distinction between “human” and “animal.” In the end, Zootopia is a message about an urbanized environment and society where distinct species can peacefully coexist and even work together for the success of the city once diversity is acknowledged as being a strength of a society rather than a weakness.

arielAriel Russ is a first year Master of Environmental Management candidate at Yale University's School of Forestry and Environmental Studies in New Haven, Connecticut.