Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan



The 55th animated feature to come out of the Walt Disney Animation studios in Burbank premiered on March 4th, 2016. As of this writing (6/22/16) it has earned $1,012,150,383 on a budget of $150,000,000.That makes it the fourth-highest grossing animated movie ever and it’s still playing in some theaters. Only this last week it faces some real competition in Finding Dory.

The premise: Thousands of years ago mammals either killed each other or ran away in terror. But somehow they got civilized, and now the lion and the lamb lie down together. Well, not exactly, but they coexist. (What the lions eat is not something that’s mentioned.) This leads to some pretty interesting problems, some of which have been addressed ingeniously by the writers. Like, how do rhinos and gerbils manage to live in the same city, walk the same streets, ride on the same trains? If I were John Q. Gerbil I’d be in a constant state of anxiety. And there is a part of town set aside for small rodents. But mostly they live together.

The story is your fairly standard “you can be anything you want to be if you set your mind to it.” Which is clearly bullshit. A rabbit can’t become a giraffe. But let it go.

Anyway, it is the story of Judy Hopps, who wants to break away from the rural carrot farm where she grew up, and become the first rabbit on the Zootopia police force.

It’s all pretty predictable, but fun nonetheless. There are some sly inside jokes, and some that are easy to spot, such as the character of Mr. Big, who turns out to be a tiny little shrew whose daughter is getting married today, and who sounds exactly like Marlon Brando as Don Corleone, even to swiping a lot of Vito’s dialogue.

The animation, as usual, is stunning, incredibly detailed and fully imagined. I have realized by now that I know nothing about CGI animation. I mean, there were dozens of people listed as “lighting.” What does that mean, in animation? It sure isn’t lugging big spotlights around. There must have been well over 1000 people involved in the production.

And because I’m an SF writer and can’t help myself from asking questions like this … sure, they can get along, but what about romance? No way a rabbit is going to marry a fox, though they become good friends here. (I expect to see them again in Zootopia 2, which I guarantee you is already in the works.) It seems to me that in this situation, species would tend to want to live in their own neighborhoods. Which would become ghettos, where their kind is not welcome. Which would lead to a lot of unpleasantness. But hey, this is an amusement, not a sociological study. I just had to mention it, that’s all.