Zootopia– Who’s Who in the Zoo?

The official description of this 1 hour 48 minute film on the rottentomatoes.com website reads as follows—-

“The modern mammal metropolis of Zootopia is a city like no other. Comprised of habitat neighborhoods like ritzy Sahara Square and frigid Tundratown, it’s a melting pot where animals from every environment live together-a place where no matter what you are, from the biggest elephant to the smallest shrew, you can be anything. But when rookie Officer Judy Hopps (voice of Ginnifer Goodwin) arrives, she discovers that being the first bunny on a police force of big, tough animals isn’t so easy. Determined to prove herself, she jumps at the opportunity to crack a case, even if it means partnering with a fast-talking, scam-artist fox, Nick Wilde (voice of Jason Bateman), to solve the mystery. Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Zootopia,” a comedy-adventure directed by Byron Howard (“Tangled,” “Bolt”) and Rich Moore (“Wreck-It Ralph,” “The Simpsons”) and co-directed by Jared Bush (“Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero”), opens in theaters on March 4, 2016. Officer Judy Hopps (voice of Ginnifer Goodwin), the very first bunny on Zootopia’s police force, jumps at the opportunity to crack her first case-even if it means partnering with fast-talking, scam-artist fox Nick Wilde (voice of Jason Bateman) to solve the mystery.”

In other words, this is the rarest of all Disney children’s movies, it’s an actual mystery…. of sorts, a mystery that few if any children will be able to decipher or figure out, but hey…. their parents will enjoy that part while the children enjoy the funny animals, the chase scenes, and above all the sloths….. and did I mention the sloths running the DMV? Well here’s a sample….

The sloths are the scene stealers of this film. To……say….the….least……zzzzzzz.

The actual message of the film however is about diversity, and the acceptance of diversity, and while we’re at it, a not so subtle slam on the notion that biology determines destiny— in this case predators will always be predators and prey will always be prey. When predators start losing their domestication in this film, they go bonkers. This is not attributed in the end to biology but to a drug…… you catch my drift (i.e. they are suggesting that biology does not determine identity….). While there is much to be said on the positive side about respect and love and the good side of diversity, the ignoring of the fixity involved in XY chromosomes, DNA, biology etc. all the more so with animals who are more a matter of nature and less a matter of nurture when it comes to behavior, is a bit dismaying. The other message of the film is that if you try hard enough, you can be just about anything you want to be. A bunny and a fox can be police officers and get along just fine with enough love and respect. Sure they can! And of course the voices for ‘realism’ and for ‘settling’ for the truth that life is often less than perfect are—- old fashioned farming rabbits who raise carrots.

There are lots of enjoyable moments in this film, and some really funny ones as well, and you can certainly take your children to this film and have a meaningful discussion about the limits of diversity and of human possibility as well. This is not your average children’s film, it is deliberately more thought provoking. And one thought it is meant to provoke is— enough with the stereotypes about sly foxes and dumb bunnies, not to mention innocent sheep. In fact, I feel a little sheepish now telling you this, but let me say in closing— don’t let the advocates of anything goes diversity pull the wool over your eyes. I’m just saying.

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