The day has finally arrived when I can spill the beans about my thoughts on this movie. YAY! Disney’s Zootopia is finally available in theatres nationwide! As part of the Disney Zootopia press junket, we got a chance to screen the movie in advance.
As I type this, Zootopia currently has an impressive 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s reflective of how good this movie truly is. The filmmakers masterfully weave in several important social messages, but deliver them via animal characters, which helps make “the medicine go down.” This is not a princess movie, nor is it another zoo movie despite the title. The animal characters in this movie are very human, even with the various Easter Eggs hidden throughout that focus on their animal nature. The message being that you are in charge of defining yourself, not society, so do what you are truly meant to do. I think the “Try Everything” song really touches on this inspirational streak. Check it out below and keep reading for more of my review:
Peppered with bits of humor and pop culture references that are obviously meant for the parents, this movie is both entertaining and educational for the whole family. My kids sat through the entire movie without one potty break, a true miracle considering the extended length of 108 minutes. The filmmakers joked with us that they considered an intermission, but it wasn’t even needed. You did not feel like it was this long, drawn-out movie where you are waiting for them to cut to the chase. In fact, it is one of the rare movies in which I left feeling satisfied by the experience.
As a woman, I really identified and focused on the female characters of the movie. There was a very subtle element of gender inequality and sexism, though not brought to light as strong as other forms of discrimination seen in the film. I could go on for days regarding every lesson to learn in Zootopia, but for now I’ll elaborate on some of my thoughts regarding the ladies roles. Spoiler Alert: I may, or may not, reveal some things about the movie that you want to watch first before talking about them. If that is the case, please go see the movie TODAY and come back here so we can discuss our thoughts tomorrow.
Officer Judy Hopps, voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin, takes the lead role as we watch her journey from a wide-eyed little bunny to an eager and determined leader. While everyone laughed at a bunny wanting to be a cop, she proved them wrong by going through the training and becoming the first bunny on the force (with no reference to her gender here). However, when she meets Chief Bogo (voiced by Idris Elba) we see how easily she is dismissed and relegated to a meter maid. It’s a role typically associated with females, and Judy’s parents are delighted to see her in her orange vest and out of danger. Determined to excel, Judy writes 200 parking tickets by noon on her first day. She then takes on a large investigation, largely without the support of her fellow officers, and ultimately solves the whodunit only to find out that she might’ve done better by leaving the case alone. When they want to make her the face of the force, she declines and accepts responsibility for her error. Judy goes from naive to empowered, which makes for the best story of triumph over expectation.
Assistant Mayor Dawn Bellwether (voiced by Judy Slate), is another interesting character. While originally appearing as the secretary and perpetual doormat of Mayor Lionheart (rather than the Assistant Mayor role that she was elected to), we learn towards the end that she was really the mastermind behind it all. It seems as though she played into the gender-weakness stereotype in order to gain the access and power she needed to become Mayor. This pitched two female characters against one another, with good predictably winning out over evil.
Pop Singer Gazelle (voiced by Shakira) represents love and acceptance. Her human-ness is even more present here, as represented by her hair and curvy body. People love her, regardless of their background and history, and she has a powerful platform from which to speak to the public. Her song, “Try Everything” inspires us to never give up even in the face of obstacles and fear.
Mrs. Otterton (voiced by Octavia Spencer), not a major character but one I’d like to touch upon nonetheless, plays into the traditional caregiving and dutiful wife. She is also the mom figure we take notice of. Without her continually coming to the department regarding her missing husband, Judy would have never had the opportunity to get involved. It’s here we see how one woman has the power to open doors for another woman. It is also a lesson on those of us who are determined to stand by our loved ones side and hold out hope for them if they are lost.
A little (literally) favorite of mine is Fru Fru, the arctic shrew and daughter of the Don Corleone-like character Mr. Big. She relied heavily on her father’s love and support, enjoyed shopping and spending his money, but not as spoiled as people think she is. She really has a little heart of gold, and she saves Judy and Nick from a terrible fate. I’ve studied the gangster archetype in both literature and film, so of course this stuck out for me.
Overall, regardless of gender, race or ethnicity, you will find benefit from this movie’s message.
Get Social with ZOOTOPIA
Disclosure: I was invited to attend an exclusive Zootopia press junket by Disney in exchange for this post. All opinions expressed are my own.