Take Your Daughter to See Zootopia. Right Now.
This is Judy Hopps. She's the lead character of Disney's Zootopia, opening in theaters March 4th.
She may just be the most impressive female heroine that Disney has ever churned out.
Although I am a hardcore Disneyphile, I've never shrunken away from calling Disney out on its sometimes questionable female role models. In recent decades there has certainly been progress (lookin' at you Mulan, Tiana, Rapunzel...), but this bunny is going to blow your mind.
Zootopia gives us a glimpse of what a society for animals might have evolved into without humans. Predators and prey live in harmony side by side and do humanoid things like farming and governing. Judy Hopps is a small town bunny who dreams Big Dreams of the Big City.
But she doesn't want to be a movie star or a pop singer or a fashion designer, she wants to be the first ever bunny on the police force. She wants to be a trailblazer. In the face of EVERYONE (including her parents) telling her that it is a fruitless endeavor, she still pursues her dream.
And she fails at it. Repeatedly. Cue the Police Academy training montage as Judy initially proves everyone right by failing at all the tasks set in front of her.
BUT SHE DOESN'T GIVE UP. She uses her smarts and intuition to approach the challenges in new ways, she uses her supposed disadvantages of "size" to her advantage and turns the world on its ear. She graduates the star of her class and the mayor himself appoints her to her dream job as a police officer in big city Zootopia.
By this point in the film I was already reaching up to wipe unexpected tears from behind my 3-D glasses.
As the film goes on, Judy must continue to overcome naysayers and doubters at every turn. She's not some myopically-conceived badass; she's a female with feelings and emotions who deals with her own self-doubt in weaker moments. She confronts her own prejudices, eats a giant slice of humble pie even when the whole world is trying to congratulate her for being awesome.
*Spoiler Alert* In one of the most impressive moments, Judy is offered a massive promotion: her dream on a silver platter. She TURNS IT DOWN, pointing out that it wasn't her dream to be this big law enforcement agent, but to MAKE A DIFFERENCE and CHANGE the world for the better.
Rather than just pushing the "Dreams Come True" agenda Disney's had for close to a century, they try for the more realistic "Try Everything" (theme song by Shakira). Judy Hopps's story is one of personal integrity and perseverance. Judy doesn't just pursue a dream and achieve it; she's faced with a giant dose of surprisingly realistic skepticism and opposition she must overcome before she can do so. It's all so timely and socially-conscious. And it's Disney, go figure.
I'll leave you with a final thought from Judy herself, and encourage you to open your hearts to this little bunny-who-can.
"Life's a little bit messy. We all make mistakes. No matter what type of animal you are, change starts with you."