I’m a sucker for animated films and I don’t think I can accurately express my love for Zootopia in particular (but, here’s the attempt). It’s hard for me to narrow down a list of my all-time “top” favorites, but I know Zootopia is definitely one of them.
I went to see it in the theatres with my brother and sister when it first came out. It wasn’t until the previews started playing that I realized it wasn’t The Secret Life of Pets. For some reason, I totally thought that was what we were going to see, even though it hadn’t (and still hasn’t) even come out yet. When I realized that, I was suddenly disappointed, as I was (and still am) very excited to see it, and very bummed. Suddenly, I had no idea what Zootopia was about or if it would even be good, yet there I was, sitting in the theatre waiting for it to start.
A couple hours later, I came out of the theatre, talking up a storm about how much I loved it. I laughed, I cried, I felt moved and was generally surprised at how fantastic this film was; so much so, I forced my best friend to go see it with me in theatres again a few weeks later. Then, when it came out on DVD this week, I bought it and watched it this morning. Now, at work, I’m still singing the single, “Try Everything” by Shakira, in my head.
(It’s so catchy.)
What makes this film so brilliant? Well, a lot of things. The premise itself was fantastic–especially so, considering I had mistaken it for another film and actually had no idea what it was about before watching it. I loved that the animals were self-aware that they used to be primitive and it started out talking about their evolution, and the main conflict resolved around that transition. That was super interesting.
My favorite part was how the message was so powerful and the characters were so relateable–even to me, as a 23-year-old. The message is best summed-up by the hero herself, Judy Hopps:
I thought this city would be a perfect place where everyone got along and anyone could be anything. Turns out, life’s a little bit more complicated than a slogan on a bumper sticker. Real life is messy. We all have limitations. We all make mistakes. Which means, hey, glass half full, we all have a lot in common. And the more we try to understand one another, the more exceptional each of us will be. But we have to try. So no matter what kind of person you are, I implore you: Try. Try to make the world a better place. Look inside yourself and recognize that change starts with you.
Not only is this message absolutely fantastic, but I love how positive Judy is. Despite her parents being unsupportive–due to their own fears and experiences–she chased her dream of being a cop. And her motivation wasn’t to be the first bunny cop, breaking stereotypes, but she wanted to make the world a better place, and being a cop was her way to do that. When she got to the Academy and continually failed at the beginning, she pushed herself harder and worked extra until she succeeded. When she was assigned as a meter maid, she challenged herself to excel at that, even though it wasn’t exactly what she wanted to do on the force. When her apartment was shitty, she got excited, because having that apartment and living in the heart of Zootopia meant she made it, and her dream was that much closer to becoming true. Her positivity, belief in herself and confidence was refreshing and inspiring.
I related to her so well due to my recent life experiences. Like Judy, I moved away from home after college, lived in a shitty apartment and was excited about what life had to offer. And, like Judy, I made enough mistakes that eventually, I went home, feeling defeated. And, hopefully, like Judy, I’ll learn from my mistakes, become a better person because of how I learned from them and continue chasing my dreams with the utmost passion.
Aside from Judy and the great message, the film was also a joy to watch. So many moments did I laugh. I cried twice. It had some dark moments that I wasn’t expecting that really ripped at my heart, in relation to bullying, that not only hit home, but hurt because of how real those experiences are, and how often they happen. Plus, there were quite a few references to other films and TV shoes that I caught onto which were a fun surprise. The Godfather, obviously. I truly believe Anastasia was one and my friend had to point out a Breaking Bad reference that I missed. It makes me wonder how many other references they slipped in that I didn’t notice.
There is a foolish stigma that animated films, being animated, are either lesser films than live action or “can’t do as much” as live action films, having to be “dumbed down” for a younger audience. While I don’t believe this at all, with some of my favorite and most powerful films fall into the animated category, that argument can’t even be made in relation to Zootopia. It is a fantastic film no matter what age range you fall into or what films are your preference. It serves as a great reminder for everyone about the power of a positive mindset, the harshness of life, the vulnerability of living and the ability to overcome it all. I recommend, 110%.