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On one level, "Zootopia" is the sort of animated romp Disney does better than anybody, with funny furry critters in cleverly comical situations.

But, as Aesop used to do with his animal stories, this one has something else going on: a pointed allegory about fear and prejudice, tolerance and acceptance, that is the perfect counter to the hateful blather emanating from the current political campaign.

As a girl, Judy Hopps dreamed of leaving her family farm to become a police officer in the big city, Zootopia, where all manner of animals, predator and prey, live in civilized coexistence. Her carrot-farmer parents (voiced by Bonnie Hunt and Don Lake) tell her it's an impossible dream — rabbits don't do dangerous things like becoming cops — but Judy is determined.

Sure enough, Judy (voiced as an adult by Ginnifer Goodwin) perseveres through Zootopia's police academy and becomes a cop — aided by Mayor Lionheart (voiced by J.K. Simmons), a lion trying to win the prey vote by pushing an affirmative-action program. Police Chief Bogo (voiced by Idris Elba), a surly water buffalo, doesn't think rabbits should be on the police force and assigns her to meter-maid duty.

When several Zootopia residents, all of them predators, go missing, Judy offers to investigate the case that has stumped Bogo's entire force. She has only one lead: Nick Wilde (voiced by Jason Bateman), a con-artist fox who was the last animal to see one of the missing predators. Judy coerces Nick into helping her follow the trail of clues, which takes them on an exciting and humorous ride through Zootopia's varied habitats.

Directors Byron Howard ("Tangled") and Rich Moore ("Wreck-It Ralph") — working off a screenplay by Jared Bush (also a co-director) and Phil Johnston (with story credit shared by all four, plus "Frozen" co-director Jennifer Lee) — put a smart four-footed spin on the buddy-cop genre. There are plenty of laughs as Judy and Nick encounter all kinds of sneaky creatures, from a street-hustling weasel (voiced by Alan Tudyk) to a blissed-out nudist yak (voiced by Tommy Chong). (There's also an unfortunate amount of animal stereotyping: Sloths are slow, weasels are shifty, and so on.)

But through the comedy, which draws a smile even with the oldest of jokes (Judy's good at math, we learn, "because rabbits know how to multiply"), "Zootopia" becomes a moving parable of urban insecurity. As Judy and Nick uncover the truth behind the missing-predator case, she goes from distrusting to befriending him and confronting her own prejudice against predators. It's a timely, and nicely told, lesson.

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A bunny works hard to prove herself as a cop in this funny and sharp-witted parable for modern times.

Where • Theaters everywhere.

When • Opens Friday, March 4.

Rating • PG for some thematic elements, rude humor and action.

Running time • 108 minutes.