Has anyone else noticed there seems to be another Disney movie out every other week?
This time, we’re here to discuss the newest offering in the Disney Animation Studios canon: Zootopia. Directed by Byron Howard of Tangled fame, Jared Bush and Richard Moore, Zootopia tells the story of Judy, a bunny who must prove a rabbit can make it as a cop in the eponymous city of Zootopia. When she is given only 48 hours to either solve a case or lose her job, Judy must team up with the wily fox Nick to solve the case—and maybe learn a thing or two about herself and the world along the way.
On the surface, Zootopia is just another funny, animated kids movie, but at its heart it is so much more than that. Zootopia is a timely tale on prejudice, bigotry and the way the two can often sneak their way into our interpersonal relationships.
Disney could not have released this move at a better time. With the nation in the midst of the largest conversation on race relations and bigotry since the Civil Rights Movement, Zootopia is a kid-friendly way to explain these issues to a new generation.
I think one area where the movie excelled was describing the way people deal with systemic oppression on an individual level. As the audience’s surrogate for learning about the world of Zootopia, Judy was both able to explore the ways she was the recipient of prejudice and the way she inflicted it upon others.
In one subtle moment near the beginning, Judy explains to one of her fellow officers why it is considered rude for other animals to call bunnies cute. The scene evokes memories of how certain words can take on a different context when used by a member outside the group, and Zootopia makes it clear that, as awkward as these conversations can be , they’re still worth having.
However, the metaphor was far from perfect. Both Judy and Nick dealt with being the marginalized party and faced stereotypes, but the movie failed to address how oppression can occur on an institutional level. Unlike our society where people of color do not benefit from the current system, the predator/prey dynamic got muddled.
As with all Disney movies, the animation was excellent. The city of Zootopia looked and felt like the kind of modern metropolis animals would build if animals built cities. Every character moved exactly as their species would be expected to, from Judy’s nose twitches and hops to Nick’s crouching on all fours.
From a technical standpoint, the music was lackluster. The score served its purpose well in the context of the movie, but none of the tracks were particularly memorable. Even the movie’s breakout single, “Try Everything” by Shakira, was catchy but ultimately forgettable.
But the movie’s soundtrack does not take away from the strength of the writing, and I encourage everyone to give this little gem a chance. Who knows, you just might come out of it with a new opinion or two—or a set of rabbit ears.
Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of Deviant Art.
Rosie Brown is a junior journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.