Disney is known for its quality films. Hands down Disney is the leader in animated films and I want to start by saying Zootopia doesn’t disappoint. I left the theater immediately wanting to see it again. I wanted to break down the story and analyze its contents a bit better because Zootopia is a dense film – and I mean that in the best way.
Zootopia focuses on Judy Hopps, a bunny living in a world of much larger animals and stereotyped as nothing more than cute – a term she finds offensive. And all she wants to do is to become a police officer, a position that is laughable for a mere bunny. She’s been taught to avoid predators out of safety, even if the world around her has evolved and all animals live seemingly harmoniously. On her first day of work she meets Nick Wilde, a fox – the very predator she was warned to avoid. When she gets a lead in a case that will prove her abilities she learns she needs Nick’s help.
Ironically, there’s not really a true villain in Zootopia. Prejudice, racism, and sexism are the villains of Zootopia and they are woven so subtlety throughout the film that I’m begging to see it again to continue to analyze it. At a time when the nation is growing and learning how to give voices to groups of people that have historically been silenced – this film teaches us to listen and realize that sometimes even the best intended actions have deep consequences for other people.
Judy is from a marginalized and stereotyped species. She works harder than her peers and more than earns her way into the force but it’s her size and cuteness that determines what job she’s assigned. We even learn that despite her hard work, she only gets a job on the force because the mayor – a predator – needs to put Judy on the team to help him look better politically. After overcoming her differences and proving that she’s capable, she unintentionally divides Zootopia between prey and predators. Despite the fact that she’s been marginalized for the first half of the movie, Judy paints a picture of predators that has the citizens fearing each other. Suddenly the tables are turned and the predators – a minority in Zootopia – are feared so intensely that the city considers locking them all up for their own protection. Only when Judy is able to realize her own prejudice and make amends with her demons does she meet up with Nick. Their exchange is one of the most heartrending moments of the film.
“I know you’ll never forgive me. And I don’t blame you. I wouldn’t forgive me either. I was ignorant and irresponsible and small-minded. But predators shouldn’t suffer because of my mistakes.” – Judy
Kids and adults alike have a lot to learn from Disney’s Zootopia. While most of us are marginalized or stereotyped in some way, we have to be careful not to do the same to others. Judy ends the film with the perfect thought: