Zootopia: A Loud Voice to a Discriminating Nation

Zootopia (2016)

Director – Byron Howard, Rich Moore

Writers – Byron Howard, Rich Moore

Starring – Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, J.K. Simmons, Idris Elba

Rating – PG

Genre – Adventure, Animated

Metascore – 78/100

Rotten Tomatoes – 99%

Grab a pinch of Lethal Weapon, zest on a better-executed version of Shark Tale, mix in a well-thought-out story, and bake it inside an oven of excellent voice-acting and *ding* you have Zootopia! Eat up, because Disney’s latest offering is deliciously fun. Satisfying both the heart and the eyes, Zootopia breaks ground Disney hasn’t tread upon before. Our tale (tail?) follows a young up-start bunny (Judy Hops) with big courage and even bigger dreams of becoming the first rabbit police officer in Zootopia, a profession unheard of for a rabbit. Why? Rabbits are cute, farm carrots, and live in the country. That’s right, stereotypes and discrimination in a Disney pic. Underneath all the fur, Zootopia has a lot to say and teach about discrimination. In the foreground of the buddy-cop backdrop it attempts to peel back the curtain of police discrimination along with racial (or is it “speciel”) discrimination. I’ve not seen a film with a message like this, aimed at an audience like this one, be so authentic; it is far from an expectedly trite animated movie with a message (i.e. The Lorax).

While there are no direct allegories from the animal kingdom to the world we live in, the notions and ideas are easy to pick up on. For instance, most animals think foxes are sly and therefore do not trust them; all the bigger and tougher animals make up Zootopia’s police force and so they put smaller animals on traffic detail; prey tend to be given the more menial jobs while predators excel as leaders. Zootopia slowly reveals these stereotypes and discriminations and spends the majority of the film unfolding them before us and showing how each is a false perception. The prey end up being cunning and dangerous and the predators are found to be easily duped. At the same time, however, the characters come face-to-face with their own stereotyping and find that they also are caught in the cycle of the Zootopian hierarchy. The most moving scene in the film for me is when Judy, who has been discriminated against most of the movie for her size and species, voices to her fox-friend (Nick Wilde) her distrust of predators, saying, “You’re not like them”, to which Nick responds, “So now there is a them”. It’s remarkably honest territory for an animated feature to touch upon. How many of us have felt that embarrassing moment when our subconscious soul is brought to bare while relating to a friend of different ethnicity or culture? In those moments we too feel rather small and maybe even animalistic in our approach to diversity.

Apart from all the things this film has to say, what it has to show is equally beautiful. The hair and fur of the animals jumps off the screen and begs to be cuddled with; it’s such a textured experience. The voice acting is passionate and you can tell the actors believe in the message. This film feels good; I can’t wait for the sequel.

499 rating : 9.0 / 10

Author : Blake Burrough

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