Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Zootopia review

    I've got to say, of all the fiction Disney has translated into other films (Hamlet for the Lion King, various fairy tales, and so on), I never expected them to make Eddie Murphy and Another Nick Nolte's 48 Hours into a film about talking animals. It's a movie which is insightful about prejudice, doesn't really have to say about racism, and is entirely entertaining throughout.

    Zootopia has the premise of Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) is a rabbit from the sticks who wants to become a police officer more than anything. Unfortunately, in this world, only predators and really large herbivores are police officers. Judy proceeds to overcome her challenges as a small animal by being fast as well as determined, only to be made a meter maid by the prejudiced water buffalo Police Chief Bogo (Idris Elba). Events introduce her to small-time hustler Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) who she dragoons into investigating a kidnapped otter which brings her into a conspiracy that threatens to tear the city apart in species violence.

I love the two leads. They have great chemistry.
    Zootopia is very good about discussing prejudice, which is talking about pre-judgements about people based on any number of things. Judy is prejudged for being a female rabbit. Judy prejudges Nick for being a fox. Everyone is carrying baggage about other groups of people which prevents them from seeing them as they really are.

    It's not quite as good at talking about racism. Racism being different from prejudice in that it's more systematic and ingrained into the system. Predators and prey don't have any real dominate position over one another. The majority of the populace are prey while the predators are a bullied minority, except when they're in power. You could make an argument the lion mayor is one for a newly risen black leader but I think that misses the point.

    Where the movie is good is that it's possible for any racial, ethnic, or gender group to see themselves in the predator or prey group. Indeed, one of the movie's better qualities is no one is a one-to-one parallel. If this was about racism in America, Judy would be a fox who leaves the Deep South of rural Bunny Burrow to go to the big city, only to be join the predominately predatory police force made of larger predators only to persecute the prey animals to make herself part of the establishment. The plot would maybe be a plot to frame omnivores or larger more dangerous herbavores for crimes so the predators could stay in place.

    That isn't this movie.

Some of my relatives!
    No, if you're a black or white child, you can identify more with the bunny or the fox depending on your own inclinations or see yourself with one side or the other or, preferably, both. This is the difference between applicability and metaphor. Applicability means you can see a message there but it's not actually a one-to-one comparison.  

    The Lord of the Rings is applicable to discussing World War 2 but not actually about World War 2. Metaphor is when one thing stands for another else on a one-to-one level. George Orwell's Animal Farm is a metaphor for the rise of Stalin in the Soviet Union. Napoleon is a stand-in for Stalin and you can follow a one-to-one course from the beginning
to the end.

Shakira has a minor role which is....kind of unexpected.
    As for the actual movie, it's deliciously adorable and while its message isn't perfect, it's funny and hilarious. Judy Hopps is wonderful and I totally want to take her home with me. Ginnifer Goodwin gives possibly her best performance in the little critter, which would be kind of sad if she wasn't so awesome. Jason Bateman's hustler character is enjoyable and my second favorite Disney Fox after Robin Hood. Some of the jokes fall flat like a parody of the Godfather which would be cliche twenty years ago, let alone in 2017.

    In conclusion, Zootopia is an enjoyable movie even if it's not the best thing ever written. There's a lot of really imaginative and entertaining things on screen 80% of the time and even when there's not, there's usually something at least enjoyable.



  1. Enjoyed this movie a lot. It will be interesting to see how it stacks up against other upcoming animated flicks this year.

    - Zach (

  2. Haha, didn't expect to see this among all the grimdarky stuff you usually review.