Unlocked doors kicked in: None
Unrealistic computer hacking: None
Questionable uses of discretion: Some – but, what did you expect? We’re talking about animals here.
Disney’s Zootopia is the story of Officer Judy Hopps who attempts to unravel a series of disappearances in the metropolis of Zootopia. In the past, I’ve been highly critical of television police dramas and unrealistic Hollywood productions that do a horrible job of portraying my former profession. Zootopia does a fantastic job of avoiding thed usual pitfalls of the cop drama, while lending realism to policing in movies (you know… other than the fact the characters are cartoon animals). So, how realistic is this film? Extremely.
Exhibit 1: Officer Hopps, the first bunny on the force, uses a criminal informant (a fox named Nick Wilde) who has access to animals and information that cops don’t. Hopps coerced Wilde into helping her by holding damaging information over his head. This is the way it works with C.I.’s. You have to get leverage and then use it wisely.
Exhibit 2: Hopps has limited access to information. Her own department has basically cut her out of the loop and limited her ability to use department resources. Unlike NCIS in which Tim McGee or Abby Sciuto simply hack into restricted databases and violate countless state and federal laws in order to obtain information, Hopps has to get creative in order to run a license plate. Through Nick Wilde, Hopps develops a contact named Flash at the DMV. Contacts like this are invaluable in real world law enforcement, although the most helpful ones aren’t incredibly slow sloths that work at the DMV. Rather, they are incredibly slow humans who work at the DMV.
Exhibit 3: Hopps mostly stays within the law and even cites the requirement to have probable cause to search property. In fact, Hopps is frequently careful not to violate rights, search without warrants, and is constantly respectful to the public. Sure, she colors outside the lines when pushed, but who am I to judge? I never had a water buffalo as a police chief.
Exhibit 4: Officer Hopps gets caught up in city and departmental politics. As in real life, law enforcement gets caught in between society’s problems and those who want to capitalize off of fear. While a vast majority of the officers in the Zootopia Police Department (ZPD) are honest and hardworking, the department is put in the impossible position of bringing order to society while those with political ambitions stoke the fires of anger and discrimination. In fact, I’d say the movie Zootopia is a better political commentary than anything I’ve seen this election year. Contrary to recent political events, the film made my family laugh instead of cry which was a bonus.
So, forget Dirty Harry, Bad Boys, and Lethal Weapon. Zootopia is policing at it’s best. It has intrigue, suspense, politics, criminal informants, and the most ingenious and complex popsicle con ever invented. Seriously, it’s a brilliant operation. Go see this film and see if you don’t want to put in your application for the ZPD. I know I do.
Did you see the movie? Feel free to comment below.
J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, Chalk’s Outline, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.
An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.
In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered. When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill him.
And look for my short story FOUR DAYS FOREVER in the LEGACY anthology