Zootopia Parent Review
The story reminds us that no matter what our past experiences or genes may be, we still have the ability to determine how we will react and behave.
If you think your city has diversity, you haven’t been to Zootopia. It’s a sprawling metropolis that includes architecture ranging from extra-extra-small—for the tiniest of rodents—to extra-extra-large for elephants and giraffes. Even more amazing (and perhaps more impossible) are the climate zones, which go from extreme chill to desert heat, so there’s a comfortable temperature for every creature.
Of course one might wonder how all these animals get along in a high-density urban environment. Mayor Lionheart (voice of J.K. Simmons) proudly attests that Zootopia is a safe city where anyone can be anything. To prove his point he’s unveiled the municipality’s new Mammal Inclusion Initiative that gives even the tiniest critter equal access to employment. And that’s exactly why our protagonist, a little bunny named Judy Hopps (voice of Ginnifer Goodwin), has left her home in the country and moved to the big city.
Achieving the goal of becoming the first bunny on the police force, Hopps quickly learns that respect isn’t included in the benefits package. Surrounded by towering animals ten times her size, Police Chief Bogo (voice of Idris Elba) assigns the eager rookie to parking meter duty. Disappointed and desperate for real police work Judy jumps at the chance to assist Mrs. Otterton (voice of Octavia Spencer) when she shows up begging for help to find her missing husband. The plea comes at a moment when the chief has no alternative except to allow his new recruit to take the assignment.
Because the plot is based on a criminal investigation, the animation may offer some concerns for little viewers. For instance, some characters are threatened verbally and physically, including rough talk about putting enemies on “ice” by a shrew of a mafia boss voiced by Maurice LaMarche. (He means he will throw them into an icy lake.) And there are also a couple of jump moments. Fortunately other possibly objectionable content is minor—mainly some rude humor in a scene where animals are practicing yoga without wearing their clothes. Within the context of the movie, it’s a funny setup.
Not surprisingly, Zootopia also investigates themes of acceptance and inclusion—popular ideas in films aimed at young moviegoers. But in this script none of the characters are without their own preconceptions. A nasty fox bullied Officer Hopps during her childhood, so it is a bitter irony that she must now depend on another fox (voice of Jason Bateman), this one with a checkered past, to help her solve the case. Other creatures possess similar shades of prejudice that are hidden beneath the city’s utopian veneer.
For me, this is the genius of this highly creative production. The story sends a positive message that reminds us that no matter what our past experiences or genetic makeup may be, we still have the ability to determine how we will react and behave. Even if none of us are perfect, we can chose to forgive others and work together to create our own ‘topias, wherever we might happen to live.Directed by Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Jared Bush. Starring Ginnifer Goodwin, Alan Tudyk, Katie Lowes, Jason Bateman. . Running time: 109 minutes. Theatrical release March 4, 2016. Updated June 7, 2016
Get details on profanity, sex and violence in Zootopia here.
Zootopia Parents Guide
What parallels to city life do you think the creators of this movie are intending to portray? How does having animals play the roles of humans make these message easier for audiences to accept?
Some animal characters in this movie are depicted as having overcome their natural predator instincts. Foxes are an example of this, becoming members of the utopian society despite their once-vicious behavior. Do you agree with the movie’s message that people are capable of choosing their behavior, even when their action may be contrary to what they might “naturally” be inclined to do? How much choice do you think you have over your nature (DNA and genetic make-up) and your nurture (upbringing, social expectations)?
Many species of animals in this film reveal character flaws relating to pre-judgments of others. Is this an accurate reflection of our society? Is it possible for an imperfect human not to have some prejudicial feelings toward others? What control do we have over the way we feel about and treat others?
From the Studio:
In the animal city of Zootopia, a fast-talking fox who’s trying to make it big goes on the run when he’s framed for a crime he didn’t commit. Zootopia’s top cop, a self-righteous rabbit, is hot on his tail, but when both become targets of a conspiracy, they’re forced to team up and discover even natural enemies can become best friends. Written by Walt Disney Animation Studios