Zootropolis, or Zootopia in the US, hit our UK cinemas in March this year. It was Disney’s highest grossing original film to date and became the 26th film ever to make a 10 digit sum. With this said, it’s undeniable that the anthropomorphic family film was a box office hit. But after catching it around its DVD release in June, it seemed that the flick slipped the radar. This film has a lot say, and knows how to say it with foxes, bunnies and lovable sloths.
Zootropolis follows the story of a young bunny, Judy, who aspires to move to the city and work in the police force. But there’s just one problem: bunnies grow up to be carrot farmers – and not much else. Judy’s parents try to hold her back, and despite being the most successful animal in police training, Judy is assigned only to work as a traffic warden when she moves to the city. Judy’s surrounding discouragement is a real parallel to the gender, racial and class-based discrimination existing beyond the Disney world. Disney wasn’t just looking to keep kids pleased, but were they looking to shadow and expose modern issues.
This tone continues into the film. Judy and Nick – the mischievous fox – become unlikely accomplices in their mission, despite Nick being exactly the animal Judy’s parents warned her about. Together, the two untangle a crime taking over the city and, ultimately, bring down a growing conspiracy. In doing so, Judy earns the respect she deserves from her boss and her colleagues, regardless of her differences. Enough with your princesses, this is what kids need to hear.
Perhaps the most overdue aspect of the film, however, was the conspiracy itself. The crime that Judy and Nick go on to investigate has been set up by its villains to place the blame on the town’s minorities, predators, in order to better the villain’s social status. When it is originally suggested to the public that predators were to blame, the city’s fears turn them against the minority. In a country facing an abundance of religious discrimination, doesn’t this sound all too familiar?
This age-old, yet so prominent issue of blaming minorities finds a refreshing place in a Disney film. It’s really a relief to see this issue displayed so carefully through a children’s film. It’s a great way to educate our youngest generation.
With such an impressive display of lessons to guide children (and adults) through modern political qualms, matched with its impressive box office success and great animation, we’re simply left to wonder: how have none of us heard about this? And if you have heard a little about Zootropolis, have you really heard enough about it given the important issue it addresses? Probably not.
I’m not going to say this film is groundbreaking, but I reckon it’s not had the hype it deserves. With that said, pause your princess film and give Zootropolis a chance.