Zootopia: Possibly The Best Movie In 2016
Or at least in March.
For those of you who read my recent write up on The Revenant, you’re probably thinking, “This title explains so much.”
Of course the girl who doesn’t appreciate the Oscar nominated, cinematic-ally inspiring, basically true story of survival is going to love some low brow animated flick from Disney.
Only, uh-uh, because it wasn’t low brow. It was high brow!
At least in that hey-this-is-more-than-a-movie-about-a-crime-stopping-bunny kind of way. And, honestly, it made you think. About things we could all stand to do a little thinking on these days. And then, in classic Disney style, it made you laugh—because, sloths. And, while no one is going to win best actor for this production, I’m thinking that bear from the other flick is wishing he would’ve been cast in this film instead. At least he wouldn’t have wound up as a coat.
In fairness though, I get your point.
Zootopia is a Disney movie; the audience is children. When selecting a weekend film, one does not often add anything made by the franchise to one’s list if one seeks to be enlightened or educated. But, you can’t deny Disney’s power to inspire—and lately especially to tackle—topics that need tackling.
Despite knowing all of this, when I decided to head to the theater to see Zootopia with my boys I envisioned an hour and a half of me praying the kid behind me stops kicking my seat while I stuffed myself with overpriced buttery popcorn and my signature mix of Cherry Coke and Coke Zero. (Do not point out the irony of a diet soda with a bucket of popcorn. I see it. It’s sitting right there.)
I imagined I’d sneak in a good 15 minute recharge (this is code for nap), an experience I count on for helping me recover from the overall trauma involved in going to a Disney movie on opening weekend.
Only, not quite.
I mean, for sure, the kid behind me kicked my seat incessantly to the point that I got my eye daggers out and turned them aggressively on him and his oblivious mama. And, I ate my daily calorie allowance in popcorn, chased with my signature half-diet cocktail, and I overpaid for all of it. As one does.
But, in a rare twist of fate, I missed my mid-movie nap.
As loudly as the plush seats and the perfect darkness and the security of knowing my children could not be hurt or lost or otherwise in danger was calling my name into slumber, the writers/directors/whoever makes animated movies great, forced me to stay awake, rapt to the goings on of a little bunny in a big world with foxes and panthers and other predators out to get her.
Spoiler Alert: Zootopia
The Zootopia story began with a girl (who happens to be a bunny). A feisty girl who eagerly bucked tradition and stood up for what she believed in. For all of life, this fiery game changer wanted to be something people told her she couldn’t be.
They said she wasn’t strong enough. They said she wasn’t smart enough. They said she was nothing but a dumb girl bunny.
Because they were wrong, she worked harder than everyone else to achieve her goals and, even though she came out on top, she still didn’t earn the respect she deserved. Because to everyone else, she was still nothing more than a dumb girl bunny and that was all she ever would be.
See where this is going?
You can probably play out the rest of the plot in your mind, so I’m just going to skip to the meat of this thing.
Because the good part about this movie is that it wasn’t just about prejudice against her — it was about her own prejudices, and how we all have them even when we think we don’t. It’s about how making quick judgments on others can be hurtful to them and to you. It’s about how misunderstandings and stereotypes can get in the way of truth and justice. And it’s about how one person, if she’s (or he’s) open minded and eager to grow, can change herself (or himself) and, in the process, even change the world.
And it was perfect to see with kids (and anyone else who needs to be reminded that judging someone on the color of their skin or the nature of their sex organs is really no way to live). It packed all of those lessons into cute, furry packages and then placed them into a storyline full of adventure and comic relief. And sloths. Do not forget the power of a sloth to make a room full of people die laughing.
Obviously I thought Zootopia was a hit.
I loved hearing my boys react to the lessons — they agreed that the point is that girls can do anything boys can do, and you can’t judge people by what you see on the outside, but instead by how they behave. I loved getting some powerful reminders about how I need to reframe some of my thinking myself.
And, I loved those damn sloths man, I really did.