If you aren’t interested in seeing Zootopia, I don’t blame you. I am a Disney addict and, based on the sloth scene alone, I intended to wait for the DVD. However, after hearing more about it, I began to get curious and even a little excited. Fast forward, I’ve seen it twice and will definitely be buying it once it’s on Blu-Ray. Plus, I wouldn’t mind going a third time if anyone wants a buddy to see it with.
If you’re wondering why a 23-year-old is so enamoured with a Disney cartoon…you’re clearly new here and don’t know me at all, but I understand your skepticism.
On the most superficial level, this is the most adorable buddy-cop movie I’ve ever seen, partly because the characters are so well-formed. Start with an unlikely pair, watch as they play off each other’s strengths and compensate for their weaknesses, and eventually learn to be friends, once they shed their prejudices. Even the supporting characters learn and grow while maintaining their unique personalities.
With such vivid characters, you need an equally compelling world to put them in. Zootopia was designed so creatively that each location is eye-catching and precise. Watching the movie, you can tell that the artists really considered the problems that would affect day-to-day life for a city with so much biodiversity and addressed the issues, using open spaces, doors sized for every mammal, and boroughs with generated microclimates for animals that need certain conditions to live.
Once you’ve got characters and a setting, you need a story. The mystery in this one is simple (it was intended for younger audiences after all), but still has enough twists to keep it interesting. And for Zootopia, the mystery is only half the point. The detective story serves as a window into the bigger problems the society faces, such as prejudices against predators and small mammals. Or, as we know them in our own world, racism and sexism.
Judy Hopps is looked down on, no matter how hard she works, primarily because of her small stature. Her size means she has to work twice as hard to get through the police academy, yet when she gets out, she still isn’t considered a “real cop” but more of a “token bunny.” Alternately, Nick Wilde is a con artist, having learned years ago that no one will see him, a fox, as anything other than shifty and sly and untrustworthy. Part of what brings them together is their status as “outsiders” in their world, but when the world seems to turn upside down, fear and prejudices threaten to separate even them.
In Zootopia, there becomes an “us” and a “them,” pitting the population against one another, and reaching across those lines is the only way both to solve the case and to move forward with their lives. Even our protagonist has to learn to see beyond their fear and understand that DNA does not determine our character. She also learns that making mistakes is okay, as long as you get up again.
(That being said, Shakira’s “Try Everything” from the movie is AMAZING and has been making me feel so much better this week.)
(For more random thoughts, follow me on Snapchat @wordsmith92 or Twitter @wordsmith_kari.)