Directed By: Byron Howard and Rich Moore

Starring: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, J.K. Simmons, Tommy Chong, Octavia Spencer, Jenny Slate, and Shakira

"Everyone comes to Zootopia, thinking they could be anything they want.  But you can't.  You can only be what you are.  Sly fox.  Dumb bunny.  And that is not wet cement."
-Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman)

This past Thursday night, fourteen million Americans had the distinct displeasure of watching the umpteenth Republican presidential debate of the 2016 primaries.  Despite all odds, the Grand Old Party hit a new low.  After months and months of Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and a circus of conservative clowns dividing Americans of differing racial and religious backgrounds, they found a way to somehow sink further.  Talking about the size of Donald Trump's manhood, bickering like children who have to tell each other to count to ten, and calling each other diminutives like "Little Marco Rubio", these so-called politicians have done anything but make America great again, unless America is reality TV.  In the midst of one of the most shameful periods in recent American history, the best painkiller for appalled voters is cinema.  As fate would have it, the perfect movie for the occasion lands in cinemas this weekend in Disney's Zootopia.  It takes a bunny cop like Judy Hopps to make America whole again.

Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) believes she can do anything, including becoming a cop.  Despite the entreaties of her parents Bonnie and Stu Hopps (Bonnie Hunt and Don Lake), she wants nothing more than to uphold the law in that shining beacon of a city Zootopia, where predators and prey rise above their worst instincts and live in harmony.  Zootopia is a long way from Bunny Burrow, and there has never been a bunny cop, ever.  Still, none of this matters to Judy.  Working hard and making her way through the police academy, the small town bunny graduates first in her class and makes her way to the big city, proving that she can be whatever she wants to be and not just who she is.  Soon, however, Judy learns that Zootopia is not all she dreamed it would be.

Zootopia's mayor Leodore Lionheart (J. K. Simmons) and his assistant mayor Dawn Bellwether (Jenny Slate) are proud to showcase the newest and tiniest member of the Zootopia Police Department (ZPD).  As the rookie on the force, Judy finds herself in a rather demeaning role courtesy of her new boss Chief Bogo (Idris Elba).  Jude the Dude, as her father calls her, is now a meter maid serving up hundreds of parking tickets daily. All the while, her colleagues are taking on far more fulfilling assignments such as chasing down fourteen missing mammals.  While out on the streets, she gets bamboozled by sly fox Nick Wilde (Bateman) with his “young” partner and his pawpsicle hustle, and there's nothing she can do about it.  It's her word against his.  Little does Judy know that this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship or that she'll never have to use the Fox-Away her parents gave her.  Soon, they'll be working on a case to find a missing otter.

I've heard the exclamations that Zootopia is the best Disney film since The Lion King, but let me make a clear distinction when it comes to animated films from the House of Mouse.  There's Disney Animation, and then there's Pixar.  They may be under the same house, but they are certainly distinct.  Disney Animation is the home of Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, and Aladdin.  Pixar is the home of Toy Story, WALL-E, and Inside Out.  With this in mind, I don't think the last twenty years of Pixar are taken into account when other critics laud Zootopia as the best film since The Lion King.  That being said, take my word for it.  Zootopia is one of the great animated films of all time.  There is absolutely no doubt about it in my mind.  

serves up a wholesome social message at a time that social divisions couldn't be more rampant.  You've got a bunny cop like Judy who doesn't like being called cute as she breaks through a glass ceiling for rabbits everywhere.  You’ve got a crafty fox like Nick being labeled as a “shifty” predator despite the fact that all he’s doing is trying to make a living for himself on the hard streets of the city.  Finally, you've got predators going savage harming others by giving into the worst instincts in themselves.  Does this sound familiar at all?  If not, turn on the news and get to know the America of today.  See Donald Trump calling Mexicans rapists or labeling all Muslims as jihadists.  See the mainstream media portraying the cops' latest dereliction of their duties to protect and serve as a tragic situation involving some supposedly dangerous or criminal young black man or woman.  See the struggles with honesty and trust that Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton faces as the first palpable possibility of a female president.  Zootopia is one crystal clear metaphor for all these things happening in our society and so much more.

Similar to other great animated films, Zootopia immerses moviegoers into a whole new world that's both fun and vibrant.  With Bunny Burrow, the Rain Forest District, and Tundratown, directors Byron Howard and Rich Moore and their creative team concoct an imaginative world very much based on the world in which we live today.  Marked by gorgeous animation and a lovely score, the film has an unmistakable energy.  When you throw in a bundle of terrific, colorful vocal performances from Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, J. K. Simmons and many others, there's no denying it.  Whether the upbeat bunny cop, a slick fox with plenty of street smarts, or a stubborn cape buffalo set in his beliefs, each of these actors inhabits the melting pot of animals known as Zootopia and brings to life the ideals upon which it was founded in their own entertaining ways.

If Inside Out is all about looking inward to understand what makes us tick as individual human beings with our own thoughts and emotions, Zootopia is just the opposite.  It looks outward to show what makes a community tick in spite of all our fears and misconceptions.  It looks outward to show us the imperfect underbelly of society and how our better selves can overcome it. It's a timely take for adults and children alike.  Beautifully imagined, poignantly acted, and politically resonant, Zootopia gets a sober rating.  Adult moviegoers, I'll understand if you need to imbibe an alcoholic beverage or two before the movie.  No one else will know.  It's your word against yours.