Disney’s pedigree of animated films is unquestionable. From mischievous talking toys and adventurous fish, to angry ogres and gastronomic rats, there is no character too big or too small. Their most recent addition to their long line of classic cartoon production – a carrot farming rabbit determined on proving herself as a police officer in the big city. At face value, another feel good film, but the city of Zootropolis questions issues about our societies as well as theirs. This breakdown will help understand the ins and outs of this super clever film.
Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) – the most ambitious rabbit in her carrot farming family – wants nothing more than to live in the big city fighting crime. Much to her parents fear, she earns a place on the Zootropolis police force and is quick to get into action. Befriending Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman), a con artist fox, the pair try to tackle a mysterious case of missing mammals. In this peaceful city where predators and prey coexist, all is not as it seems.
What’s so clever about it?
As is the case with many of these animated films, this isn’t just a film for children to laugh at. Zootroplois raises subtly but importantly, contemporary cultural issues that need to be addressed, issues around corruption, stereotyping and general societal belonging. Everyone from Mayor Lionheart to the sloths working at the DMV, each characters’ role has a multi dimensional role to play. The speedy narrative and genius writing creates satirical anthropomorphism at its finest.
Tackling Stereotypes with stereotypes.
As the film matures, the personalities of the animals denote specific qualities, such as the painfully slow sloths working as clerics, and the elephants expected to have indefinite memories. And while some play to these stereotypes, others conflict them. Judy’s role as a rookie rabbit officer among larger male predators, especially her coalition with a fox, expresses so well that the little person (or rabbit) with enough determination and courage, can achieve anything. A classic Disney message intertwined with the belief that people (or species) of all kinds can be the hero, whilst living and working in harmony.
Photo Credit: Fortress of Solitude
Advocating outside-the-box thinking to all ages.
The hierarchical corruption of the Mayors assistant sheep – the last character expected to be behind any wrong doings – pulling the strings of power in her favour adds to the uncertainty of the audiences thinking . As a story targeted at children, this ingenious bit of narrative gives critical thinking a whole new family friendly form. The strong hierarchical structures such as the organized crime of arctic shrew Mr. Big, the capitalist pressures of the hard working hamsters, and the demonizing of minorities are tackled with clinical simplicity all through the eyes of a crime fighting rabbit.
It’s pretty evident that I rate this film very highly. A film that critiques the most pressing problems in modern society, through a medium that can not only entertain, but educate people of all ages, is one that should be championed. An animated film with such depth as this are quite rare, making the whole production that more special. Although not in the cinemas anymore there many places online to watch this masterpiece. Just make sure its legally watched otherwise Mr. Big will be on to you.
Feature Photo Credit: Empire Online