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Movie Review: Disney’s Zootopia

Story by Sarah Baker, Editor

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Disney’s 55th animated film, Zootopia, was released March 4. It is currently the No. 1 movie in America for the second week in a row, rocking the box office with more than $400 million revenue worldwide.

Zootopia has been gaining popularity and earning critics’ praise for its clever handling of challenging issues.

According to Rotten Tomatoes, a popular site for move reviews, Zootopia scores 99 percent among critics and 96 percent among general audiences. A movie receiving a 99 percent is rare.

Plot

Zootopia follows a female bunny, Judy Hopps (Gennifer Goodwin), who has always dreamed of becoming a cop in Zootopia, the most perfect place in the world. Despite naysayers and bullies, she achieves her dream although, Zootopia is not as wonderful as she envisioned. She must fight stereotypes to prove herself. She enlists the help of a street-wise fox, Nick (Jason Bateman), to solve a missing animal case. Zootopia’s driving theme is that the world isn’t perfect, and there will always be people, or animals, in your way, but you have the power to change it.

Key themes

Zootopia is a perfect way to have a conversation with younger children about hot-button topics like racism, sexism and tolerance. To parents, the parallels are obvious. In the Zootopia Police Department, the police officers are all male predatory animals, such as rhinos and wolves, and Hopps is a female rabbit, a prey animal, which makes her the minority. She is given the lowest job of a meter maid and must work harder to reach her potential.

Hopps even explains how she and other rabbits can refer to themselves as “cute” in jest, but it is demeaning when other animals do the same. Some female characters are even shown being pushed aside, given offices in cramped spaces, tasked with duties outside their job descriptions and being yelled at.

Another lesson comes when a minority is singled out by the police for being more dangerous than the rest of the population, based purely on ignorance. Sound like racial profiling? One shop owner clearly claims a right to refuse service to certain others.

Audience

Zootopia is a film that can be easily enjoyed by the whole family. Parents, grandparents and children alike will fall in love with this film.

Zootopia molds many difficult themes into an easier format for children to comprehend, without it being heavy-handed or forced. It addresses key issues in modern America in a natural and beautiful way.

This movie has laughs and giggles, too — from hidden Easter eggs, like not-so-subtle pokes at Breaking Bad and The Godfather, to comical interpretations, like making DMV workers sloths. There is also an ironic “Duke Weasleton” joke from Frozen.

Some of the subtle jabs, phrases and jokes are hilarious to parents while they may go over younger heads. One comment, “You bunnies are so emotional,” clearly means “you women are so emotional.” Also, the script includes a line about rabbits multiplying quickly and Hopps’ more than 200 siblings.

There is a clear parody of The Godfather with a mobster who “ices” people. Also, a Breaking Bad parallel is comical and obvious in the style of an outfit, a certain activity and the use of two characters’ names.

The music is good as well. The score and main song enhance the story. The opening song, “Try Everything” by Shakira, carries some powerful lyrics: “Nobody learns without getting it wrong / I won’t give up, no I won’t give in / Till I reach the end and then I’ll start again / … I wanna try everything / I wanna try even though I could fail.”

One of the best quotes from the movie has to be when Hobbs says, “Life is a little bit messy. We all make mistakes. No matter what type of animal you are, change starts with you.”

Overall

Zootopia is one of the best movies to come out so far this year. It is the perfect family film and fun for all ages, even parents. Much like Inside Out, parents will enjoy this film and can use it as a teaching opportunity with their children.

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