Scott, I don’t know if you look back at old posts, but I’m a day late to this blog, so not sure if anyone would even see my reply.
I’m a big fan of this movie. I think the movie’s written more like a coming of age story for Judy Hopps and the caper is just secondary. We open with a cute little bunny who happens to hold an idealistic, if not naive view of the world that predators and prey can co-exist in the world. Every beat after that challenges her view, even reshapes it. The Fox caper/buddy cop storyline is only used to further challenge her view. We see her first get a rude awakening outside the play (the real world), then in the much bigger bad world of Zootopia. At her lowest point, she succumbs to the view that maybe prey and predator can’t get along, or at least allows for her unknown prejudice that she’s deep down a little scared of predators. The Fox, the yang to her ying, had long been disappointed by a traumatic event to believe that the two groups can’t get along and it’s every animal for themselves. The break through comes when Judy overcomes her fear and changes the world in a small way, by reconciling with a predator (the Fox) and forging a bit of harmony between the two groups. What the producers originally had was the storyline following the Fox, but they soon realized that the audience wouldn’t be rooting for such a pessimistic view…and went for the more endearing bunny view. This film was slaved over by a team in house, so I think a lot of the rules that low level readers would ding it for, are avoided altogether because it’s not coming in as a spec. I think Zootopia is one of the best examples of a creative team using formula to their advantage, being so creative that they work within the parameters, yet elevating it to a much higher level. Most films wouldn’t be able to accomplish the simplistic yet powerful messages behind the story. And it’s the funniest animated film I’ve ever seen.