Dueling Reviews: Zootopia

Kid-Friendly? Think Again
By Michaela Buckley

Disney has done it again: Zootopia has quickly beat films like Frozen at the box office and looks to continue the trend. While popular with kids for its cute and furry animals, the film’s shaded jokes and allusions attract an audience of adults as well.

Zootopia finds its main character Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) finally on the police force in the metropolitan city Zootopia. She’s relegated to meter maid status and makes a bet with the chief that if she can find a missing animal, Mr. Otterton, she will either become a real cop or lose her badge. Along the way she meets Jake Wilde (Jason Bateman), whose intentions appear questionable upon first sight. Nevertheless, they team up to save the city and help find the missing animals.

The pair’s escapades make reference to other movies and shows. One of my favorites is a scene which mimics one in the famed Godfather films – well suited as it was funny without slighting the original film. Another scene I favored was that of a reference to the popular TV series Breaking Bad, where a character went so far as to wear a similar outfit as that of the series’s main character, Walter White.

Some references that seemed to be tailored to adults went a bit far for a supposed children’s movie. Granted, there is clearly an underlying race issue meant to reflect the real world’s race issues today, but I think some aspects of the movie’s theme went a little too far. I think they played the race card very well in a way children can understand, but, as an audience member, I think it’s too much for children. Movies, especially animated films, are meant to take our minds off of our real world problems and give us an easily digestible moral message to take home and ponder – not make us sit in the theater and remark about how dark the movie is despite the colorful characters.

Don’t get me wrong – I think Zootopia was a great movie and well drawn, but there was just too much that the story was trying to teach us all at once. Honestly, I wouldn’t want to confuse a child with all that this movie tries to prove and teach within a short time. I don’t even recall seeing more than a handful of children in the theater when I went.

If one made this a live action film, it would be a pretty twisted bad-cop/good-cop type of movie. My bottom line is that Zootopia is a great movie for an older crowd who do not mind having to find all the pieces and put them together. But I wouldn’t recommend this so much for the audience member who wants to sit down and have a chuckle instead of putting together the muddled puzzle pieces strewn throughout the movie.

Fun Fur The Whole Family
By Erin Bassler

In the latest in a trend of PG movies that turn the box office into a zoo, Zootopia is breaking records and taking names in a buddy-cop, fun-for-the-whole-family-film fashion.

Directors Byron Howard and Rich Moore created the equivalent of a Thanksgiving feast for the senses. Breathtaking 3D computer animations, an incredibly talented cast, and an abundance of references, from The Godfather to Breaking Bad, all come together in a critical exploration of what it’s like to face labels and prejudice from all sides.
Zootopia teaches kids that it’s good to have dreams, but you can’t expect them to go anywhere if you aren’t willing to work for them.

Our heroine, Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin), is the poster child for this type of endurance. She faces rigorous training at the police academy, constant demoralization from her coworkers and family, and a world that screams at her to settle. She establishes herself as a spitfire rabbit that won’t be satisfied passing her days on the family carrot farm, and instead, she sets her sights on becoming the first bunny cop in Zootopia — a metropolis for the furry and the free where prey and predator live in imperfect harmony.

Yet even after making the cut, Judy realizes that life in Zootopia isn’t the shining example of peace and equality that she was led to believe. “Anyone can be anything,” indeed — including condescending, stereotyping and downright species-ist. After being put down again and again for her supposed natural limitations by her boss Bogo (Idris Elba) and coworkers, Judy stakes her dignity and her future on solving the one case that nobody else can — finding 14 missing mammals.

Enter Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman), a smooth-operating, semi-legal conman of a fox that finds himself in an unlikely partnership with our bushy-tailed officer after a con-gone-bust. Thus begins a partnership/friendship/romance, set out to prove there’s more to them than just “a dumb bunny” and “a sly fox.”

Nick and Judy come face-to-face with prejudice throughout the movie, because nobody believes in a bunny and nobody trusts a fox. Judy can be viewed as a target of sexism for her gender, racism for her species, and classism for her status as prey. By overcoming the prejudices of society, our lovable fox and bunny protagonists prove that regardless of what size, shape, color, sex, or species you are, “Anyone can be anything”.

Disney has once again mixed business with pleasure in creating a cinematic cartoon where you come for the talking animals with iPhones and stay for the infectious storyline and social allegory.

Zootopia teaches very important lessons that can be broken down into about a million sub-lessons, but the gist is this — change begins with you and, as singing sensation Gazelle (Shakira) puts it, “Try Everything.”

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