A Kid Again (A Review of Disney’s “Zootopia”)

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Brock Burnett

For the first time in awhile, I felt like a kid again.

While that may seem dramatic, it is the truth. In these past few months, I have been making some of the most adult decisions of my life. I have chosen a college. I have come to terms with having to take on my student loans. I have been working two jobs in a futile attempt to lessen the crippling weight of those student loans. These decisions and many more have made my life take on a very serious tone for the past months, and that tone really began when I started my senior year. However, one chance trip to the movies changed my perspective for a few brief moments.

My girlfriend and I were looking for a movie to see on a Saturday night during March, and I suggested “Zootopia.” I had heard that it was a genuinely good movie, but something about the goofy animated animals was telling the adult inside of me that it would be too childish to enjoy. However, against those instincts, we decided to pursue “Zootopia” as our Saturday night movie. I am not sure that I have ever been so glad to betray my instincts.

“Zootopia” is a masterpiece of an animated film. The story follows Judy Hopps, a rabbit who hails from a farm along with her hundreds of her siblings. Judy has a dream since her childhood to be a police officer, but being a police officer is a typically predator-dominated career field. Her parents tell her to settle for a more reasonable career, like a job on the farm, but Judy’s determination to be a police officer propels her to continue with her dream. This determination continues to be a driving force throughout the rest of the movie as the viewer follows Judy through her first days as a police officer in the big city of Zootopia.

One of my favorite things about “Zootopia,” which you may have been able to glean from the paragraph above, is its ability to cover incredibly adult themes. Throughout the entire movie, very adult topics like sexism, racism, inequality and more are presented through the guise of differences between the animals. There’s one particular instance in my mind where Judy is called ‘cute’ by Officer Clawhauser, the officer at the front desk of the police station who is a predator. Judy goes on to say that it is offensive when a predator calls a prey ‘cute’ but prey calling other prey ‘cute’ is acceptable. These nods to complex topics like race are peppered throughout the movie.

The great part about using animals to address such themes is that it is often addressed in a tasteful manner that will often fly over children’s heads as nothing more than just another part of the film. These themes also aren’t jammed down your throat in some attempt to make you view the movie as some conscious piece on society’s ills. While sometimes the way “Zootopia” can address one of the societal issues can be less than subtle, the movie does a great job of posing the issues in a way that allows the viewers to take away what they want from the movie. One viewer could take away the film as a clever flick that addresses the problems in modern day society, while another viewer could just take away the film as the next big animated comedy movie. The movie is very open for interpretation.

Another great part of the movie is the feeling of wonder and exploration that “Zootopia” provides. “Zootopia” does an amazing job of showing off its great settings. The city, Zootopia, is mainly shown off in a well-animated montage when Judy rides a subway into the city for the first time. It displays the grandeur of Zootopia and its many different districts with their different climates. The settings in the movie, and this montage in particular, really made me feel like a child again. It really inspires this feeling of seeing something entirely new. Viewers experience a sense of wonder often not experienced since childhood.

I cannot sing enough praise for “Zootopia.” It allowed for me to feel like a child again due to its stunning settings. It also tackled some very tough topics that are unexpected to be addressed in a children’s movie. It was one of the few movies in recent memory where I actually laughed out loud. If you have nothing to do on a Saturday night and want to see a clever and inspiring animated comedy film, I highly recommend going to catch a showing of “Zootopia.” You won’t regret it.