I did not care much for the movie Zootopia, at first, I thought it was going to be another kids’ movie with kid themes and situations, I was wrong. Zootopia is a great movie, it was on point with its great character development, plot, and overall look and feel of the animation itself. As I looked deeper into the movie and analyzed the theme and plot of the movie in the back of my head I got this feeling that Zootopia isn’t a great movie for kids but it is a warning to us all.
Let’s start with the main characters and my favorite characters Nick Wilde and Judy Hopps, played by Jason Bateman and Ginnifer Goodwin. I must say the dynamic of both these characters are phenomenal both characters played off each other well and they had an on-screen chemistry that is hard to pull off. Most people think it is easier to act in an animation but it is harder than it looks. In real life, it is easy to play off the other person, with great writing and actors you can pull this off well, like in one of my favorite movies The Heat starring Robert De Niro and Al Pacino. I would like to talk about the character development in this movie, it wasn’t perfect but it did a great job overall. The whole concept of this movie was Judy the bunny going to Zootopia to show the world and herself that anyone can make a difference in this world no matter how small you are and what people think of you. We look at her development throughout the movie and see that she is capable of more than what she expected she would become. Judy’s storyline is the tale of the average hero starting from the bottom and working their way to the top. Nick on the other hand is a tale of self-redemption. All his life he was judged off his looks and was treated wrongly for that. Unlike Judy, Nike embraced the stereotype put upon him and gave up proving people wrong until Judy came along and helped him see who he could truly become. I’ve noticed in most animations the sub character or the sidekick has a better storyline than the actual hero. We see him go from the stereotypical fox to the hero no one expected him to be or even he himself expected himself to become. I enjoyed his character arch more than Judy because it wasn’t a tale of the hero finding their true selves but more of a redemption story.
This movie is about Judy the bunny going out of her comfort zone beating the odds and coming out on top while slowly being acknowledged by the world around her as one of the very best. This is a great sub story that the writers and directors came up with but to me that is not the main story. Zootopia is a warning to us all about the future and the present. The subplot of the movie is seen as the predators going back to their primitive state and are attacking the prey. In the film, the villain who turns out to be Bellwether the sheep, played by the hilarious Jenny Slate, comes up with a potion or something of that nature that makes the predators turn back into their primitive state. In the middle of the film the prey start to turn on the predators and treat them like they are the problem and judge them for fear of what they heard happened in the news and what is going on in the world around them. This was illustrated by the attacks on predators in the streets, the once friends of tigers and sheep don’t want to talk anymore because of fear of what happened in the past that might bleed over because of one incident. Zootopia in Judy’s eyes was perceived as a special place where anybody can become who they want but in Nick’s eyes, a character who has lived in Zootopia all his life, knows the harsh reality of life in Zootopia and knows the struggle of being stereotyped by your looks and who the world perceives you to be. It was a great dynamic to see the different point of views from both of those characters. One is more childlike, Judy’s, free and hopeful while the other is more realistic, Nick’s, which is more of a grown-up view on life living and going through the trials of everyday life.
As you can see I still haven’t truly explained why Zootopia is a warning for the future. In the film, you see that the prey are getting attacked more and more and the predators like the lions, tigers, bears, etc. are becoming more and more stereotyped by the actions of others. This is going on today in this world where people are being stereotyped by their skin tone, religion, and actions of others. In the movie, the predators in Zootopia are considered the minorities. This was a line that was said by Bellwether, the villain herself, stating that the prey or smaller animals including herself make up 85-90% of the population meaning they are the majority and the predators are the minority. I feel like Zootopia is America because everyone talks about how great Zootopia is, how diverse it is, and how everyone is accepted but once we get there we begin to see the true side. In the first scene when Judy meets Nick in the elephant ice cream shop we see that the owner has a sign saying he can refuse the service of anyone. It is a slick signal to the audience giving us clues that this isn’t the city Judy thought it was going to be but for some reason when I saw it I thought nothing of it. We can even take a step back when Judy who had the highest test scores in the academy was reduced to traffic policing because of the way she looked and how she was perceived by her peers. We see these things but we don’t acknowledge them until we finally see who Nick truly is as he tries to open her eyes to what really goes on in Zootopia. As the movie progresses we pull back and begin to see the dark side of this utopia Judy once believed in but still makes it her mission to make it a great place for everyone.
Overall the movie is a warning to us all, to make a true utopia we must not stereotype others and judge them off their appearance and the things done in the past. It also tells us do not act out of fear like the prey did when they got power. I would talk about the animation and the flow of the movie but that part was perfect to me. The storyline at times could seemed a little random but in the end, I loved how they put clues in the present that helped shaped the story in the end. I am not going to spoil the movie, like I already have, but I encourage people to watch it whenever they get the chance to. Zootopia is a fun and thought-provoking movie and I hope Disney can keep this kind of content coming for years to come.