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Behind the cute animals dressed in clothes in their version of New York is a story about perseverance, prejudice, fear mongering, and social commentary about the way our human world is.
Characters & Story (with Commentary)
Since she was about 8 years old, Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) has wanted to be a police officer. Unfortunately for her, though, not only is she a prey but also a bunny. Which, despite how much animals have evolved since their days as savages, it seems prejudice has killed many a dream and has swayed many to be as their parents were. But with Judy being an optimist, she never did do as her parents say and give up. No, she went to the academy, found ways to compensate for her small demeanor and conquer the obstacle courses made for the predator class, and became top of her class.
Leading to her becoming the first bunny, and possible prey class, to become a cop. Problem is, Chief Bogo (Idris Elba) doesn’t think, due to Judy being a bunny, she can be a real cop. After all, as noted, the ones who go out to be a cop are the predator classes or else large animals. So, if you look around, you’ll see elephants, wolves, rhinos, and other such animals. All of which Chief Bogo assigns real cases as Judy gets stuck being a meter maid. Something which, at first, she plans on just being the best at to prove herself, but after a day she realizes it isn’t enough.
So, as one Mrs. Otterton (Octavia Spencer) begs Chief Bogo to look into her missing husband, who is one of more than a dozen missing, Judy is allowed to take the case. However, it is with a stipulation. One in which she has 48 hours to find her husband or else she hands over her badge. Leaving Judy forced to traverse around 4 boroughs of Zootopia in order to not only find Mr. Otterton but also discover who is kidnappers are. Which, thanks to blackmail, she gets a fox named Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) to help her with.
Approaches Prejudice In A Way To Talk To Kids About: While it is believed that prejudice and racism is a waning subject matter, this maybe true for some more than others and I think Zootopia presents both in a way which can easily be consumable by children. Judy is presented as a rabbit and because of that, there are things that many assume she can’t do, including her parents. Then with Nick, because he is a fox he is automatically considered untrustworthy, a hustler, and other negative adjectives. All of which present a possible subtle lesson which could be a gateway to introduce what being prejudice is, as well as stereotypes to kids and create dialog.
Shows How Parents Are The First Dream Killers: It was said by Spike Lee, ”It has been my observation that parents kill more dreams than anybody” and this film puts that into visuals. For as much as Judy is optimistic and a go-getter, her foundation was cracked by her parents saying not to dream big, if at all. They wanted her to settle and just do as they have done and possibly be in misery. Which, to me, said a lot. If only because, pairing that with the prejudice of their world, they were pushing their daughter more so to abide by people’s perceptions than defy them. Something which I found to be a strong statement in terms of one of the reasons prejudice and stereotypes continued to exist in their world despite how evolved and civilized everyone thought they were and society.
There Is No Falling In Love, Just Friendship: Do opposites attract? Yes. But thankfully this movie isn’t about Judy falling in love with Nick as he changes and anything like that. No. This film is about Judy realizing her dreams, overcoming so many obstacles by using her mind as well as adapting, and fighting against others expectations of her by doing what they didn’t deem possible. All the while, she is facing her own prejudice with Nick and becoming friends with him. Having the type of banter which could easily become loved, but instead just became a strong friendship. Which to me is important not just because it shows people of different backgrounds and etc becoming friends, but that men and women can get along well and it doesn’t mean they have to date or fall in love. Something I don’t think enough movies, nor TV programs, show.
Speaks strongly about persevering no matter your size, background, or whatever could stand in your way: Though I probably sound like a broken record at this point, what this film does best is really push the idea that you can do anything no matter what others say or think. All you have to do is work hard, adapt, and be prepared for your opportunity to change people’s minds. For before Judy got Mrs. Otterton’s case, as noted, she was a meter maid. However, she saw an opportunity to prove herself and made the deadline placed on her. Proving that one can be rewarded for sticking in there during the worst of times, and perhaps creating one of the first Disney movies in a while that not only seemed relevant for the modern age but one which seems focused on more than just making a profit.
On The Fence
Employment of Stereotypes: In the film, there could be jokes which some could consider at the expense of Italians and people from the southern united states. Which could put a damp on things but considering the message of the movie, I think it depends on the person.
Final Thought(s): Worth Seeing – Recommended
While many animated movies have emotional depth, I mean I can’t recall too many Pixar films which haven’t made me cry, I can’t recall many which tried to approach racism and prejudice the way this film did. It goes into fear mongering, trying to change the perception of your people, recognizing when you yourself are being prejudice and more. I mean, I was personally shocked that this wasn’t just some cute movie about one bunny’s journey to being a cop. Hence the Worth Seeing and Recommended label. This film just goes beyond expectations and excels in a multitude of ways. Really pushing the idea that American animation doesn’t just have to be goofy, cute, with the only realness of the film usually being a loss of a parent. There are other topics they can address, and adapt for a young audience, while still presenting an entertaining, and sometimes silly, film.