Zootopia Opinion: Disney soars with this timely, smart and entertaining film
Disney's in-house animation studio has delivered a timely and entertaining film that manages to be quite enjoyable for kids and at the same time deals with serious issues of the modern urban world, from racism and immigration to tolerance, with some seriously gorgeous animation.
Remember how you watched Inside Out and felt its deep lesson it had and how that film managed to be entertaining as well as deep and smart? Well, that was Pixar on top of their game. So what would Disney's own in house animation studio have to do to make their own name stand out in a crowd of animation studios? Well, with "Zootopia", that's how. Zootopia works its way into the minds of both adults and children by looking at themes of prejudice, racism and the "melting pot" in a way that opens up the minds of both its characters as well as the audience. The film essentially tries to tell the tale of what urban America is striving to be: A diverse place where "Anyone can be anyone".
Basics first: The animation itself is gorgeous, and I don't say that lightly. I know that its pretty much a guarantee that every film released by a major animation studio will be done with state-of-the-art animation, but this one really stands out. The lighting is almost photorealistically cinematic while maintaining those classic cartoon colour schemes that we are familiar with in the world of animation. Disney Animation is definitely coming up to the level of Pixar in terms of the quality of the animation that they are able to achieve, and they don't waste the resources that they have. Zootopia has much more to boast about than just gorgeous animation, however. (It also has the funniest Godfather reference I've ever seen in recent times)
With Zootopia, the filmmakers deal directly with a tale I am personally familiar with: entering the "melting pot" urban life having left an ethnically homogenous place. Judy Hopps, the lead character voiced by the very talented Ginnifer Goodwin, is a rabbit who grew up in the country side where there were almost always rabbits and "preys" everywhere. However, she dreams of going to Zootopia, which is the filmmakers analogy for America, a place where "Anyone can be anyone". In this film's world, Real life ethnic divisions are dealt with in the form of predators and preys, and different animals have different stereotypes for them. But the city of Zootopia proclaims to be a utopian metropolitan city where both predators and preys can live together in harmony. Judy wants to go on to become the first rabbit police officer in the Zootopia Police Department, but nearly all cops are way larger and tend to be predators, and have their prejudiced against the preys.
The way this movie deals with what its like to be a minority in an American city is spot-on accurate. What I thought, from Disney's behemoth marketing team, was that this was going to be a good time at the movies. What I got instead was a smart film that almost goes as deep as Pixar's "Inside Out" did last year. Zootopia gives us a relatable character in the form of Nick Wilde, voiced by a superb Jason Bateman. Nick is a fox, a predator, living in Zootopia having accepted the stereotypes thrust down upon him in his childhood, that a fox is conniving and deceitful, so much that he doesn't even try to show any resistance to any prejudices when we are introduced to him. What transpires through the film is an adventure that the kids will love, led by Judy and Nick, which is fun in and of itself (Though there are one too many deus-ex-machinas again.), but is not as impactful as the very setting and theme of the film.
To conclude: This film is as important to watch as Inside Out, and arguably more so today. In a time where political divisiveness and controversy has taken a huge toll on people of colour, where public cries for limiting the accessibility of America based on race are not disregarded, but actively debated, Disney's Zootopia provides the public with a sharp perspective check by informing us about the minority experience in urban America today and the prejudice that inevitably comes with it (Arguably the whole of America, but I say urban since Zootopia itself is a metropolitan city) and by giving some invaluable moral lessons in how we should be trying to look at each other: as people, because, as Zootopia tells us, "In Zootopia, anyone can be anyone".