By Rene Mitchell
Walt Disney Studios’ Zootopia is an animated children’s movie about a courageous rabbit named Judy Hopps aspiring to become the first rabbit cop of all time. Despite having her dreams doubted by everybody she comes in contact with, Judy successfully proves them all wrong and takes her talents to the police department of Zootopia. Judy is exposed to the harsh reality of the real world and takes the opportunity to prove her worthiness as a police officer.
The use of animation in this movie gave room for intricate creative expression and fine details. Zootopia is a bright, bustling mammal metropolis that is filled with opportunity and never sleeps. I thought it was amazing that the large buildings in Zootopia were based on actual buildings from major cities all around the world. The Empire State Building in New York, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and the Burj Al Arab in Dubai were three out of the many landmarks animated into the movie. Another interesting aspect of the movie is the use of habitats for every animal. Judy came from the town of “Bunny Burrow”, which was a farming area solely for bunnies. There was also an Italian style town named “Little Rodentia”, which was solely occupied by small rodents. The incorporation of human life into the movie gives it more of a relatable and humorous touch.
The characters have an array of personalities that work with each other perfectly. The main character, Judy Hopps, is an outgoing, determined, and driven rabbit that never gives up. From the beginning of the movie until the end, the audience sees Judy growing up into the woman she wished to be from 9 years old. A giver, a fighter, and nowhere near to a push over, Judy is a perfect example for the young boys and girls watching. She stands up for what is right, tries to fix what is wrong, and sticks to her wit at all times.
The second main character, Nick Wilde, is a sneaky and sly…. fox. Nick successfully tricks Judy into buying his “baby”, who is actually a fennec fox named Finnick, a giant ice pop from the Elephant shop. Despite Judy’s bad experience with a fox when she was younger, she opened herself to trusting Nick, which eventually leads to a life long friendship and police partnership. Nick is a natural born hustler and con artist. He scams people then earns a profit off of them. I did not trust him at first, but he showed that despite being a fox, he can still be loyal.
Judy’s first act as a police officer was retrieving her friend Black Sheep’s arcade tickets back from the bully fox Gideon. Judy demands he gives Black Sheep back her tickets, in return Gideon pushes Judy to the ground, scolding her for thinking she could really become a bunny cop. A kick to Gideon’s face leaves Judy with three long scratches on the cheek. Judy comes out victorious, retrieving the tickets without Gideon realizing. After such a traumatic experience, one would not expect Judy to easily put her trust in a fox again. Ironically her best friend and police partner ends up being nobody else expect sly Nick.
The directors Byron Howard and Rich Moore both have backgrounds in the animated media industry. Bryon Howard is best known for directing Bolt and Tangled while Rich Moore is known for animated television shows like The Simpsons, The Critic, and Futurama. Moore made his animated film directing debut with 2012’s Wreck-It Ralph. The collaboration between these two directors for
Zootopia was a match made in Heaven. The ability to convey human life through animals sets the bar between Zootopia and other animal animated movies and television shows. Through trial and error, Moore and Howard produced a movie that is organically funny and relatable to the audience.
The fine details in this movie draw the audience in as it progresses. While watching the movie, I noticed how well animated each scene and/or animal is. Looking at Judy, it felt as if I was touching her fur simply by looking at it. She looked extremely realistic as if I could take her out of the movie and pet her fur and look at her deep blue eyes. What I also found interesting about the movie was the constant, yet indirect focus on Judy’s size compared to everyone else. In other animated animal movies, usually, the characters are all the same size. Taking on a realistic approach for the movie, each animal is portrayed as they are in real life. Giraffes are extremely tall, with tall vehicles suited for their body size, Hamsters are tiny, travel in packs and through tunnels, and Rhinoceros get to work by swimming down a body of water. The audience is learning how and where the animals live in real life.
There is no way to escape the irony in this movie because it is everywhere. One of my favorite moments from the movie was when Judy and Nick go to the DMV (Department of Mammal Vehicles) to seek help from Flash, the fastest sloth working in the DMV. In human life, the DMV can be one of the most dreadful places to go because everything tends to move so slowly. Ironically in Zootopia, the DMV is operated entirely by sloths. They move so slow you can see and feel the paper ripping from the machine. As the sloths moved slow, so did the audience. There is no way to avoid the lengthy process and it’s best not to interrupt the easily distracted sloth. Another funny, yet ironic moment is the scene with Mr. Big. Mr. Big is actually a small Possum with a “Say hello to my grandmamma” attitude. The most fearsome crime boss in Tundratown, Mr. Big commands respect and expects nothing less than that. Mr. Big was going to have Judy and Nick dealt with, but they were spared because Judy saved his daughter’s life while chasing a criminal.
From the very beginning of the movie, I noticed how Judy’s dream of being a bunny cop was downplayed by every animal she came in contact with. Her parents, Bonnie and Stu Hopps, wanted Judy to stay at home with them and her 275 brothers and sisters to run the family carrot stand. When they found out Judy was moving to Zootopia, they grew fearful that she would be surrounded by dangerous predators like foxes. Even when Judy became the first bunny cop, those higher up thought little of her capabilities also. Zootopia Police Chief Bogo, a nonchalant cape buffalo, assigns Judy to parking duty simply because he does not care whether she is a great addition to the team or not. When Judy’s parents FaceTime her and realize that she was a meter maid for her first assignment, they are cheerful that their daughter is taking on a safer position than solving dangerous cases. That conversation triggered her nosey neighbors to argue whether or not she’ll be a great officer. Nick shunned Judy’s dreams completely, calling her a stupid bunny that will never be a real officer.
The incorporation of technology in animal lives is no different from ours. Judy is seen on FaceTime with her parents in one scene and listening to her iPod Touch while on the train going to the city. Other animals walking on the street or in their habitat have computers, phones, and musical devices just like the people you would see walking in the city. Judy has a handy carrot recording pen that she uses to her advantage throughout the movie. Officer Clawhauser, Zootopia Police Department’s charming cheetah receptionist, is seen constantly on his iPad watching performances by pop star Gazelle. Technology seems to be everybody’s favorite pass time.
Being that the main character is a female, I enjoyed the woman empowerment message Judy constantly spreads amongst her peers. Just because she’s a female and falls under society’s view of a worthy officer does not mean she cannot do what everybody else can. She may be smaller, underrated, and full of overflowing hope and courage, but that does not stop her from taking on bigger opportunities and completing tasks with her all. When Chief Bogo gave Judy 48 hours to solve the missing Mr. Otterton case, she took the little lead information she had and ended up solving the entire departments individual cases. Everyone is questioning how such a small rabbit, alongside a conniving fox, could complete 14 unsolved cases in forty-eight hours. Judy never allowed the doubt of the world ruins her confidence. She had a dream and she stuck to it. That is a great message to teach the rising youth. If you do not believe in yourself then who will? One has to fight for what they are passionate about in order to make a difference.
The music from the movie followed along well with Judy’s girl power attitude. Songs that recited lyrics about not giving up played throughout the action parts of the movie. When Judy returned home from her first day at work, depressing songs depicted how Judy was feeling at the moment. When the movie was getting intense, suspenseful and rapid paced music accompanied the scene.
I love how the directors mirrored the opening scene of the movie with the end. The movie opens with nine-year-old Judy performing in her school play Prey vs. Predator. At first, the predators were destroying humanity─in this case, animality─by killing its prey. During this scene, we get a full taste of Judy’s bubbly personality. She is attacked by the predator, squirting ketchup and throwing decoration string in replace of blood. She then she shows prey and predator evolve to live in peace and harmony in Zootopia. Everybody that comes to Zootopia has an opportunity to be whatever and whomever they want to be. Judy’s goal was to make the world a better place. At the end of the movie however, Judy speaks to the audience from a mature perspective. As a child, she thought Zootopia was a perfect place. Once she got there, reality hit her. Real life is difficult and messy and full of roadblocks and hardships. The best way to navigate through life is to try and understand the people around you because everyone is different. If you want to make a difference, change starts from within.
Overall, I would recommend this movie to people of any age, color, or nationality. Adults and children alike can take a valuable lesson from this movie and apply it to everyday life. Through the use of colors, animation, music, irony, and reality, Zootopia turned out to be a great movie. Directors Byron Howard and Rich Moore collaborated to produce a must watch film for the year 2016.