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Live from La Farine: BrightestYoungThings: Movie Review: Zootopia: "Zootopia... has more in common with Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’...

...In between clever gags and photorealistic animation, there is a sharp procedural about racial profiling. Yes, really.... Screenwriters Jared Bush and Phil Johnston imagine an integrated animal kingdom, one where predators and prey live in harmony (more or less). While animals have jobs, clothing, and infrastructure, there are an unspoken social strata that informs everyone’s station in life. The exception is Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin), a rabbit whose family is full of carrot farmers, but stubbornly pursues a career as a police officer.... On her first day, she meets the fox Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman), a smooth talking con man (or ‘con fox’?). Anyway, after he tricks her, she realizes he’s a key witness to a string of mysterious disappearances. Wilde and Hopps team up, uncovering a vast conspiracy as they follow clues through Zootopia’s varied climates.

The first encouraging thing about Zootopia is Hopps’ character arc. She is a little like Ethan Hawke’s character from Gattaca: unwavering and determined, she refuses to let biology determine the ceiling.... If the first section of Zootopia is like Gattaca, then film noir such as Chinatown inspires the rest of it. Hopps and Wilde’s investigation is a survey of a varied landscapes, one where they encounter friends and enemies in unlikely places. They visit a tundra that’s run by the mob, and a rain-forest that may upend the foundation of their entire social experiment....

The division of predator/prey means Zootopia eventually has deeper social implications. The dialogue wisely never presents the dynamic in racial terms, and instead focuses on the consequences of stereotypes.... Hopps and Wilde arrive at a painful impasse, and what they uncover has been clearly influenced by infamous cases of modern police brutality. Adults will see ugly echoes of modern prejudice, and yet Zootopia’s deft touch means they are hidden from innocent eyes.... Zootopia... taps into genuine anxieties with a setting that resembles ours... from annoying smartphone apps, to an infuriating local bureaucracy, to a craven mayor who is happy with the status quo (ironically, the mayor is a lion)...

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