In March, Disney released "Zootopia," one of the best animated films it has yet to create alongside "Inside Out" and "Big Hero 6." While my commentary on the movie is a little delayed, I loved it far too much after watching it a few days ago and had to verbalize my appreciation.
"Zootopia" follows bunny Judy Hopps, the first-ever bunny police officer in an all-animals world, on her quest to solve a number of missing persons cases with the help of con-artist fox, Nick Wilde.In this world, all animals live peacefully among one another; no literal food chain exists. Within the film's universe, "Zootopia" is a large urban area characterized by the slogan "where anyone can be anything," which seems to truly represent the overarching theme of defying stereotypes and pursuing your dreams.
In thinking about the movie's child-directed messages, I found that Judy's journey demonstrates perfectly that you should never give up simply because others tell you to. The adorable, optimistic, and tenacious bunny proves to everyone that, despite her size, she's more than capable of being a successful cop. Her counterpart Nick, too, defies a negative stigma by explaining that the only reason he ever became a con-artist was because society continued reinforce the ideal that foxes were inherently sleazy and shady. Their friendship, alone, proves that two members from the apparent opposite sides of society can come together and not only become best friends, but solve crime harmoniously.
The writers address cultural stereotypes by developing the societal division between predator and prey species. The villain in this film (who I will not reveal, don't worry), reeks havoc in Zootopia by instilling fear within one half of the population with the intent of shifting power from one side to the other. This establishment of one portion of the population as dangerous in order to gain and maintain power seems to me to be a metaphor blatantly reflecting some of the corrupt methods of today's politicians, so way to go, Disney.
Beyond the multitude of positive and thought-provoking messages conveyed, the writing is hilariously clever. The dialogue does not shy away from being hyper-aware of the fact that everyone is an animal. In reference to a sheep named Ms. Bellwether, Nick asks if she "counts herself" when she can't sleep, which I found to be a brilliant comment. When Judy and Nick take a trip to the DMV, we discover that it is run exclusively by (of course) sloths who move excruciatingly slowly, suddenly explaining why the lines always take too long. The movie parodies "The Godfather," Chinatown, and overall basic human nature through both subtle and obvious presentations. Every character introduced is colorful and amusing.
In the end, "Zootopia" informs its viewers that all people must live together in harmony – predator or prey, black or white, no one should be judge or limited by their appearance or cultural stereotype. It's a lesson that we all probably need to absorb.