My Thoughts: ZOOTOPIA (2016)

zootopia

When I had first heard that Disney was working on the movie that would become Zootopia, I was incredibly excited! It was going to feature anthropomorphic animals (which I love) and be part of the crime/whodunnit genre (which I also love)! When the movie was released, it received mass critical praise, made over a billion dollars in the worldwide box office, and was just adored by everyone! What did I think of the film? Let’s see!

Oh, there will be SPOILERS!

For those who don’t know, Zootopia takes place in a world made by, made for, and populated by animals. A bunny, Judy Hopps, voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin, dreams of becoming the first bunny cop in the metropolitan city of Zootopia. But, she’s constantly met with obstacles and others telling her how no bunny has ever been a ZPD cop before. Nevertheless, she perseveres and eventually becomes a cop.

Persevering is better than being a carrot stick in the mud!
Persevering is better than being a carrot stick in the mud!

After that, she realizes that she’s not taken seriously as a cop even in the ZPD department. She tries to prove her worth by helping crack a case of 14 missing mammals. She does this with the help of a con fox, Nick Wilde, voiced by Jason Bateman, who’s only helping her because she has a self-incriminating audio recording of him.

I feel Sheriff Andy Taylor would have issue with this sneaky way of proving a criminal guilty!
I feel Sheriff Andy Taylor would have issue with a cop recording someone’s words without their knowledge!

Nevertheless, they work together in a “buddy cop/criminal” sort of way and attempt to solve the case.

So, what do I think of this film? Honestly…I don’t know. I’ve seen this film about 3 times so far, and I still don’t have a concrete idea as to how I feel about the film. I do like it, but I am not in love with this film as most people seem to be. I know many people who actually say that this film has made it into their top 10 favorite Disney films of all time, and I’m like…

reallytomhanks

Ok, let’s talk about what I think is good about the film. The thing that stands out the most is the message. The film preaches a very strong anti-prejudice message and shows how people on both sides (the side of the majority and the side of the minority) can be good or bad. They show this by linking the bad people to a vegetable known as the Night Howler. In my opinion, the Night Howler represents bad ideologies. They can corrupt anyone regardless of race, gender, religion, or species.

Night Howlers and ideologies are much alike: they have many layers!
Night Howlers and ideologies are much alike: they have many layers!

The other good thing about the film is its technical aspect. The animators and screenwriters do a wonderful job in creating such a colorful and inventive world! Almost every mammal that you can think of makes an appearance in this film! Also, let’s not forget the voice actors and the amazing jobs they did, especially Ginnifer Goodwin and Jason Bateman!

Oh, Shakira is in this movie too...just thought I'd mention that!
Oh, Shakira is in this movie too…just thought I’d mention that!

So, what do I dislike about this film then? Firstly, while I did enjoy the message of the film, I sometimes did feel that it was too preachy. It just reminded me of how I felt about Frozen pushing down our throats the idea that you can’t marry someone whom you’ve just met.

"Is Mark just against morals or something?!"
“Is Mark just against morals or something?!”

Secondly, there are some things that I didn’t quite understand. For example, there’s a scene where Judy Hopps says that bunnies can call other bunnies, “cute”, but when other animals do it, it can be awkward. I honestly don’t know what this is referring to in real life. The only thing I can think of that reflects this in real life is terms like the “n-word”, i.e. only African-Americans can call each other that, but when others do, it’s offensive. So, are we saying that the term, “cute” to a bunny is equivalent to a racial epithet? I don’t know.

zootopiacutebunny
“You may call the car cute, if you’d like!”

Another thing that I wondered about was, how did the animals in Zootopia not know about the dangers of Night Howlers before? Granted, the villains treated the Night Howlers to make them deadlier, but animals outside of Zootopia were well aware that Night Howlers were capable of bringing on some bad behavior! I just would assume that the animals in Zootopia would have known about these dangers!

Beware.....beeeewwwaaaarrreeee....!!!!
Ooooh…….scccaaaaaarrrryyyyyy!!!!

I think the biggest problem that affected me was the hype this movie had. Everyone loved it! Everyone was praising it! It had like an A on Rotten Tomatoes! I guess I was expecting to see a movie like Beauty and the Beast or The Lion King. And I don’t think anyone would disagree with me in saying that Zootopia was no Beauty and the Beast or The Lion King! Even one of my fellow Rotoscopers writers wrote an article about the danger of hype surrounding animated films, this oneย in particular.

Summing up, I do like this film, I do. But, how much do I like it? I’m still unsure about that. I definitely don’t love it nor is it a favorite film of mine, but it’s one that I’m glad to have seen.

zootopiaranking

23 thoughts on “My Thoughts: ZOOTOPIA (2016)”

  1. Fascinating review! I must admit that over-hyped movies can make me wary (and sometimes just plain contrary ๐Ÿ™‚ ). And it does sound like the preachiness is a bit much. But a whodunnit story is always welcome! I did enjoy Hoodwinked for that reason.

      1. Yes, I so agree about the sequel – I don’t think I even finished it, but the first one was fantastic and so clever.

        I’m not sure if I’ll see this one in the theater, though probably when it comes out on DVD.

  2. To me it was a fable like a nursery rhyme and don’t those always have strong messaging? That’s their whole point to teach children a lesson. The world building blew me away and the humor and the heart I loved. I loved the relationship between Judy and Nick. The mystery was good and I loved the noir feel. Mr Big was hilarious. Yeah my 2nd favorite of the year and I think best nonmusical from Disney since 101 Dalmatians

  3. I really enjoyed this film. The way they tackled the theme of prejudice was really well done. I remember you telling me that you thought this film was very preachy. While I do agree the film could have been a bit more subtle with its message, it never came to a point where it became overbearing.

  4. I liked the film fine, and the message is strong, but it is not one of my favorites either. I always ignore hype, since it has and will continue to blind people. The hype was so strong because no one had expectations of this film.

  5. I thought the film was excellent. Good characters, compelling story, creative setting, and a strong message to boot. I think its greatest victory is that it makes making a good animated film look easy.

    I agree with your complaint about the Night Howlers. I thought it was unfair for Judy to just stumble across the solution to the mystery in particular, and if the effects of Night Howlers were that well known, the authorities would have figured out the cause of the predators’ behavior very quickly.

    I think Judy’s comment makes some sense if you consider that one girl could call another cute without it meaning much, but if a guy said it it would be interpreted as flirting. Also, in a flight I made recently, I heard a woman refer to the flight attendant as a “stewardess”, but if I did the same thing she might very well tell me off for it.

    Also, I don’t think Andy was necessarily opposed to recording suspects on principle in that clip, especially since in this case Nick was openly bragging about committing tax evasion to a police officer. Anything you say to a police officer can and will be held against you in a court of law, and that is why suspects who have a problem with this request the right to be quiet until they can speak with their lawyer because those conversations must be kept private.

    So Andy was simply opposed to recording private conversations between a suspect and his lawyer, because that violates the law and would result in the case being immediately thrown out if the evidence was presented.

    1. Thanks for the comment! And I guess I understand what you mean, but I’m one of those who doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with the term, “stewardess” so maybe that’s why I didn’t quite get it.

      And yeah, Andy’s case was a bit different. I mainly just used the clip to make a joke, lol.

  6. I feel the same. I watched it a few times and still fill unsure. The message still has me ‘what?’ …The it’s in their DNA part or the cute being offensive reflective real lie a bit but I wondered about the impact it would cause. I love the Shakira (the gazelle) being surrounded by lions. That was brilliant! I mean that’s how I see male and females lol.

  7. I, personally, love this movie, for several reasons: (1) The film’s central message against bigotry is one that our younger generations need to understand now more than ever, and ZOOTOPIA gets the message across in a way that is arguably more intimately relatable than THE FOX AND THE HOUND, POCAHONTAS, or HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME. (2) The world that the filmmakers created- one created by non-human mammals, for non-human mammals- is absolutely amazing. (3) Shall we talk about humor? I’d probably call ZOOTOPIA the funniest Disney animated feature since THE EMPEROR’S NEW GROOVE.

    However, there are a couple of things regarding Zootopia’s citizen makeup that bother me:

    1. The film ought to have included ALL orders of non-primate terrestrial mammals, but there are barely any marsupials visible, and the following orders were not shown at all: Chiroptera (bats), Tubulidentata (the aardvark), Macroscelidea (sengis, a.k.a. elephant shrews), Pholidota (pangolins), Monotremata (the egg-laying mammals– echidnas and platypi), and Dermoptera (colugos [arboreal gliding mammals from Southeast Asia]).

    2. Since the film is set in a universe where humans never evolved, the population should include mammals that humans have driven to extinction, including (but not limited to):

    -Bluebuck: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bluebuck

    -Thylacine

    -Tarpan, a.k.a. Eurasian wild horse (Equus ferus ferus)

    -Quagga

    For that matter, why couldn’t they have shown some of the rarer, more critically endangered species, like kouprey (a forest-dwelling, wild bovine species from Southeast Asia), okapi, Javan rhino, or saola (a small two-horned mammal discovered in Vietnam in 1992, with similarities to both antelopes and oxen)?

    (Pardon me for rambling, I just had to get that off my chest…)

    1. Yeah, most people loved the movie more than I did, for the reasons you said; it just didn’t make my top faves personally.

      And who knows? Maybe if they do a sequel, we’ll see more worlds in Zootopia and maybe there will be extinct animals in the next one. I’d love to see a Barbary lion and a Tasmanian Tiger mysef!

  8. I remember in art college learning that one thing animal cartoons have going for them is that a number of human prejudices are eliminated. Any person from any background can enjoy something like a Tom And Jerry cartoon, especially when no humans are present and most communication is pantomime.

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