Sitting down to see a movie can be a daunting task, especially when a seven-year-old child parks it right next to you and begins kicking the seat in front of himself. It may well be important for you to avoid showtimes where children are likely to be present, unless you actually enjoy being around them when you’re trying to focus on something you might enjoy. Even though kids can be bothersome, we all have that inner child that needs to be satisfied; some of us may have forgotten the feeling, and watching Zootopia is a good way to bring that memory forward. Saturday morning cartoons were hopefully a part of most our lives, and the format of an animated movie brings some of that nostalgia back. The thing that you realize in watching those old cartoons now is that a good portion of them had humor for the adults that would, typically, skip right over the heads of most children. This sort of creative nod is present in Disney’s latest opus, and adults, who are watching the film alongside their kids, will appreciate its inclusion in Zootopia. Most animated movies keep up with the aforementioned practice, understanding that children will not be showing up to theaters unattended, but this film does an especially good job of it. So fear not, brave parents, whether you have children or not, there is plenty for you to laugh at and enjoy.
Walt Disney Animation Studios did a wonderful job – Zootopia is beautifully animated, detailed, and rendered. You could likely spend days, if not weeks, re-watching the film and still, after all of those views, see something new. Though there are walking and talking animals, the character modeling was so lifelike that you could almost forget the movie was animated at times. Still, there are things that might cause you to yawn at first; for instance, all of the creatures are living stereotypes of their species; but this aspect is neatly tied together, providing a moral to the story that strikes a relevant societal chord.
There is plenty of silly low hanging fruit to be had, but much of it is done in a clever enough fashion that you’re left oblivious as to which branch it came from. The story is a mash up of a who-done-it mystery and a civil rights biopic. This is where the film really shines in bringing content for all ages. The concept of civil rights and discrimination can come off as complicated – and perhaps only meant for adults – whereas the mystery solving, Scooby Doo side of the movie may be meant more for children. Though I do believe the concepts are simplified in this case – to the point where most children will understand the theme of inclusion and anti-discrimination – the who-done-it themes could well be aimed more toward the adults in the audience. Either way, it works.
The main characters in Zootopia are Judie Hopps, voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin, and Nick Wilde, voiced by Jason Bateman. Their characters play off each other in a classic field-mouse-meets-city-mouse situation, mixed with a little racial bias. Hopps is a rabbit who grows up wanting to be a police officer in a world where no rabbit has ever been a police officer. Wilde is a fox who has given in to the stereotype of all foxes being sly tricksters, never to be trusted and always to be watched. The struggle both characters face is inspired by real discrimination and prejudice we face in our global community. The pigeonholing of people, based on their appearance, questions their very existence as a unique and singular individual. Without allowing a person to express themselves based on how they see the world, and what they want to be in it, we are seeking to unjustly stifle them. The characters of Hopps and Wilde show us, through their journey, to never underestimate yourself or others. No matter what we have been told – or have even witnessed in the past – there is always a possibility for a brighter future so long as we remain open to it. Zootopia reminds us that morals, animation, and great voice acting can come together to deliver an artistic achievement worth watching. And there is something to be said for that.