Netflix Pick – Zootopia

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Zootopia Banner

At the beginning of the new year the best possible thing you can do with your time is to catch up on all the movies you missed out on in the year previous. Some you were better off without (Sully) but some that were put aside as being typical are genuinely brilliant. Zootopia is the latter. Zootopia is the latest 3D animated Disney film. Disney, of course, means quality. I didn’t pass over this movie thinking it wouldn’t be good. I passed it over for a while thinking it would be standard kid fare with a few bits thrown in so the parents don’t get bored. What I got was so much more.

Zootopia takes place in a world where animals all act like humans. A very eager rabbit, Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin), doesn’t accept that rabbits are able to only do certain things while the dream job she really wants is reserved for larger animals. Judy’s dream is to be a cop. It looks like the animal world can’t stop her from being a cop but they don’t have to like it. Judy gets her badge but is quickly put on traffic duty. It’s made clear her commanding officer Chief Bogo (Idris Elba) thinks that is all she’s capable of.

Appropriate to her personality, Judy decides to be the best traffic cop there is. In the midst of a fun scene where she could use every bit of talent nature gave her, she sees a sly fox (is there any other kind?) who isn’t what she thought at first glance. Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) posed as a father in need but Judy soon discovers he’s a con man.

At this point the movie felt like a paint by numbers kids film. The fact that the animals were allowed to act to their nature made the personification of the animals a lot more fun. The human brains with animal traits made the characters interesting and established the pecking order of a society instantly since it is the obvious one in nature. This wasn’t just a charming gimmick. As the winder plot of Zootopia came into light the movie wasn’t just more interesting because it went deeper. It was more interesting because it had something very relevant and important to say without jamming it down your throats.

Yes there is a lot more plot than cops and conmen in Zootopia. There is a very cool mystery with a couple twists and turns. That isn’t the most impressive thing about the movie though.

Zootopia’s message of you can be and do whatever you want if you work hard enough is an important one. In a world of participation medals and every mundane task being praised for one thing or another it’s easy to see the work ethic in America sliding down a steep slope. Judy worked hard to get to where she wanted to be and did it for all the right reasons. Kids can look up to this tiny rabbit on this alone. This also is not the most impressive thing about the movie.

Zootopia’s most important message is on equality and prejudices. Nick wanted to be a decent guy (fox). He tried to be. The world never saw him as anything but a sneak. Why put in the effort if it’ll never pay off? If the world things you’re a criminal chances are that’s the role you’ll fall into. The same goes for Judy. So many characters, including her own parents, advised her that dreams are a waste of time and to accept the role she knew she wouldn’t like. The carnivores and herbivores were each slotted into their own archaic roles despite a lot of talk of advancements in society and equality. These stigmatisms are even manipulated to drive the real plot of the film.
The messages in Zootopia seem more and more relevant in our confused world. The fact that they are peppered in and organic to the plot makes watching a movie filled with life lessons not just bearable but downright enjoyable. It’s further impressive that these roles don’t have just a single direct correlation to the human world but many groups/people/situations can be slotted into the different aspects of Zootopia to give unlimited relatability to any person in the audience.

It would be a shame to talk so glowingly of all the wonderful writing the team of incredibly talented men and women did without mentioning what brought it all to life. As per usual with Disney the animation is flawless. There are so many subtle touches and perfect moments. The characters move and react flawlessly. The world around them feels alive. It’s impossible to dismiss animated films of this quality as cartoons in the pejorative sense. Every frame of this movie is a pure work of art. Every last sequence, movement, flick of the whisker, and tap of the paw is meticulously crafted to sculpt something perfect.

I could write ten more pages about the quality of Zootopia but that would just stop you from sitting down to watch it. It’s streaming on Netflix right now, get to it.

Zootopia – 5/5

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