Review By HOMA WOODRUM
“Zootopia” loosely means “animal place” and in Disney’s new movie it refers to a sprawling metropolis with multiple climates/areas where mammals (both predators and prey) co-exist. Judy, as a young bunny in a farm town, wants to be a police officer when she grows up. The movie follows Judy’s journey as she has to overcome her own assumptions about herself and other animals. The first third of the movie takes a little while to settle in. Judy is assigned to be a meter maid even though she came out of Police Academy at the top of her class.
The movie has a lot of layers and my five- and seven-year-old kiddos actually picked up on the concepts while adults may see more of the parallels to real life. Judy has a bad experience with a fox in her youth and it informs her behavior as an adult until an unlikely friendship with a fox. Her fox friend, Nick, took his childhood experience with “prey” and fell into behaving as foxes were stereotyped. Judy’s flaw, however, is assuming that she is not prejudiced against the 10% prey of the Zootopian population.
My daughter remarked after the movie that she liked how Judy could be whatever she wanted to be and that she was brave. That said, both kids had moments where they were startled. The main conflict in the story involves predators “going savage” and being rounded up as a result. Judy and Nick uncover the real situation and its unlikely mastermind.
I’ve written in the past on Vegbooks about how vegetarian or vegan children may struggle with predation, and the depictions of animals threatening one another did seem to startle my kids but they startled me equally probably because it was on a big screen in a dark theater. The allergy mom in me was interested in a scene where an elephant uses his ungloved trunk to prepare ice cream scoops and sprinkle peanuts on them but funnily enough the food safety implications were brought up by Judy anyway.
The animals in “Zootopia” are seen eating frozen treats, nuts, fruits, donuts, pies, and veggies. I didn’t catch any other food making an appearance which is interesting. Most of all the movie plays with perception, inclusion, change, and how things seem versus what they are. A cute song by Shakira has a feel good vibe. Oh, and other pluses are that no one dies (I’m looking at you, “Frozen”) and Judy doesn’t have a love interest.
Positive messages, beautiful animation, and very accessible. Probably keep the littlest ones at home just for a few scary scenes but very veg-friendly all around.
Rated PG. Common Sense Media recommends this film for ages 8 and up.