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Wednesday, Mar 2 2016
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In addition to being a crowd-pleasing Disney cartoon, Byron Howard and Rich Moore's Zootopia works as both a nifty detective story and a parable on institutionalized racism. In a universe in which animals have evolved beyond the roles of predator and prey — and that it was a process of evolution is a point the film makes early and often — Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) is a farm rabbit who follows her dream to become the first bunny cop in the multicultural metropolis of Zootopia. Shunted to parking-meter duty on her first day by a system that doesn't believe her species can do real police work — "I'm not just some token bunny" — Judy becomes entangled with hustler fox Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman). Together, they uncover a conspiracy to play on ingrained prejudices — all foxes are dangerous and can't be trusted! — and destabilize the society. The long lead-time of animation production means it's a coincidence that Zootopia was released during a particularly odd election cycle in which the frontrunner openly demonizes people of color and different faiths. But it's remarkably timely all the same, and may well ruffle the feathers of the same people who objected to WALL-E's politics, and who don't like to be reminded that though we may be evolved, but we're still animals.


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