Monday, February 29, 2016

Review: Disney's Zootopia - Rivals the Best Storytelling of Wall-e and Inside Out

Over the last several years, the team at The Walt Disney Animation Studios has shown that it is now moving ahead of pretty much every studio that makes animated films including it's own family member, the Pixar Animation Studios. While Pixar has had great success with messages of the environment with Wall-e and with the understanding of how your emotions all work together in Inside Out, Disney brings us the message of identity and race with Zootopia.

Zootopia is set in a world very much like our own that is completely inhabited by animals. Both prey and predator work, live and play together in harmony. With Zootopia, Disney returns to an old favorite, an animated film with talking animals!

We meet Judy Hopps, a bunny who has dreams beyond her families carrot farm in Bunny Borough. She wants to be the first bunny police officer but her parents are fearful of her living her dreams and try to encourage her to stay home and work on the farm.

As a child she tries to help out her friends who being bullied by a large fox. In the end Judy gets beat up by the fox but still ends up helping her friends. This convinces Judy that she was meant to make a difference as a police officer. And as the years go by she finally realizes her dream and moves to the big city of Zootopia. Her parents are still fearful of their daughters safety and Judy ends up with some fox repellent.

Once in Zootopia Judy get a case to find a missing otter. Along the way she meets a fox named Nick Wilde. Here the topic of race begins to unfold. The first mention is when Judy arrives at the Zootopia police station. A fellow officer tells Judy that she is so cute and Judy corrects that officer and lets him know that cute is their word and not to used by other animals. The second is when Judy discusses that when some predators in Zootopia have reverted to become savages because it's in their DNA. This takes us on a journey into stereotypes and the harm that it causes to others. I have hopes that this will lead to discuss between parents and their children.

Zootopia raises questions that we should all be able to talk about. It shows that Disney isn't afraid to bring up sensitive issues. The question isn't why an animated film is bringing these issues up but how can we educate those around us, especially children with these issues to discuss them and learn from them.

Another solid film from the Walt Disney Animation Studios. Disney continues to push the boundaries of what makes a great animated film and teaches us lessons that maybe we are all too afraid to discuss in a conventional manner. Disney tells a deep, emotional story that can be understood on every age level.

Zootopia opens in theaters in the U.S. on March 4th.

1 comment:

  1. Agree whole-heartedly with your review. Not only was this movie entertaining on every level (and for all ages), but the timeliness of the messages are of utmost importance right now. I watched it with folks from 4 to 74...and all left with smiles. But, as you point out, the bigger take away is the (hopefully) discussion between parents and kids...and frankly between all people regardless of age...about the present state of society. Whether or not we're going to choose a path to foster the rhetoric that creates the stereotyping or avoiding that route is something we'll all have to dig deep to decide in the coming months.