What happens when tough social issues become a kid-friendly, animated movie?
Disney’s newest feature film, “Zootopia,” seems to answer that question.
Released on March 4, “Zootopia” takes place in a world where animals take on humanistic roles—getting jobs, raising families, shopping and so on.
The audience follows a rabbit named Judy Hopps on her journey to becoming a police officer.
In the movie, this was a rare feat because police officers were usually bigger, more aggressive animals like rhinos or cheetahs. Despite the hardships and doubts, Judy overcame all odds. She not only became the first rabbit to graduate from the police academy, she also graduated at the top of her class. This leads to her assignment in the main district of Zootopia, a place considered the best of the best.
After more bumps in the road, Judy finally gets a major case involving missing animals in the city. To solve it, she teams up with Nick Wilde, a fox she meets early on in her job.
Much of the first half of the film can lead to the assumption that this is another typical movie about following your dreams and persevering through whatever challenges may come, but as the movie progresses, viewers soon realize that it is much more than that.
Audiences first see Judy struggle through the police academy and police station because of her size and the fact that she is a rabbit.
But the real message does not really click until the audience learns about Nick and how he was bullied as a child simply because he was a fox—an animal deemed untrustworthy because they are considered predators. The other animals judge him based on stereotypes, without considering his true character.
This message that stereotyping people is dangerous and hurtful seemed to be the overarching theme that directors Byron Howard and Rich Moore tried to portray, and they succeeded.
There were moments regarding stereotyping that had a comedic effect, but most of it revolved around the serious topic of judging people—or in this case, animals—based on their background and what they look like.
At a time when racial, gender and other social tensions are at their peak, this movie could not have come at a better time. Additionally, it has made these sorts of issues easy for children to comprehend by putting it in a setting with lovable and relatable characters.There were also jokes in the movie that adults could relate to as well, making it easy for them to sit through an animated film.
“Zootopia” has already earned over $500 million worldwide and has a 95 percent audience score on RottenTomatoes.com.
This movie is a must-see, regardless of age, because there are different elements that different people will pick up on. It is perfect to watch with friends, younger relatives and older relatives over and over again.
This movie gets four out of four Jon Wallace heads.