Zootopia

(Walt Disney)

 

When Judy Hops becomes the first rabbit police officer for the Zootopia Police Dept., everyone is skeptical until she begins to solve mysterious disappearances.

 

Rated PG for some thematic elements, rude humor and action 

Genre: Family

Viewer Appeal: All Ages

                        

I just need to put it out there...I loved this movie! Wasn't sure I would, but honestly, this movie made me laugh out loud and have empathy for a rabbit. Hmmm. Disney sure knows what it's doing.

 

The basic story is this: Judy Hops (Ginnifer Goodwin) has wanted to be a police officer since she was small...uh...I mean young. Dreams of moving off the carrot farm and into Zootopia, where all animals get along, has inspired her for as long as she can remember. So imagine her disappointment when she finally becomes an officer and is made into a meter maid. Handing out parking tickets is all they think she can do. Taking this setback in stride, Judy sets out to be the best meter maid ever, setting records for the most tickets written in a morning.

 

While out and about, handing out tickets, Judy stumbles across a sly fox, Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman), as he scams unsuspecting Lemmings into buying fake organic popsicles. Nick clearly knows what he's doing, and since Judy can't arrest him for anything, she heads back to the precinct, where Chief Bogo (Idris Elba) makes it very clear that he doesn't like having a rabbit on his team. And when Judy volunteers to take on a missing otter case, well, he takes that as an opportunity to threaten her with her job ("Solve it within 48 hours, or hand in your badge.").

 

Heading out on a lead, Judy returns to Nick and tricks him into helping her. Together they locate Mr. Big (Maurice LaMarche), a mafia godfather who threatens to "ice" the pair (by literally throwing them into a lake of ice). This scene was a highlight for me, and one I found particularly entertaining. It still makes me laugh, which something I appreciated about Zootopia. Often family movies rely on crude body humor jokes to get a laugh from kids, but Zootopia included humor just for parents. A child wouldn't necessarily understand the humor in sloths working at the DMV, but when you have waited hours there yourself, it's a good laugh for parents.

 

Zootopia explores several themes which are great for parents to talk about with their kids. Pursuit of dreams is a big one, as is prejudice. We live in an age where tolerance and acceptance is taught, but truth be told, we all have prejudice. This movie is a great segue into talking to your kids about differences and prejudice. Parents should be aware, though, that there are a couple of high tension scenes, as there typically are in a good mystery. If your children are prone to scaring easily, this might be a movie you choose to wait for on video.

Bonus Features

 

• Zoology: The Roundtables – Ginnifer Goodwin hosts an in-depth look at the movie’s characters, animation, environments and more. The artists at Disney Animation give a rare and in-depth look at the complexities of bringing an all-animal world to life from the ground-breaking technology behind the characters’ fur and clothing to the varied and vast environments of Tundratown, Sahara Square and the Rainforest District as well as the deep thought and research given to bringing 64 unique animal species to life through animation.

 

• The Origin of an Animal Tale – Follow the story’s development from its origins to a big story shift that turned the film upside down. In this feature-length documentary, filmmakers give a candid look into the difficulties of creating the story of Zootopia and the bold decision to switch the main character late in the production process, putting one resolute rabbit center stage.

 

• Research: A True-Life Adventure – The filmmakers traveled the globe to find inspiration for the diverse characters and amazing city of Zootopia. They reflect on the importance of research and how a deep dive into animal behavior at Disney Animal Kingdom theme park and a deep immersion into animal society on the African savanna shaped and inspired the characters of Zootopia and changed the filmmakers’ lives forever.

 

• Z.P.D. Forensic Files – Find the movie’s hidden Easter Eggs. Every city has its hidden gems, especially when it has been created by the filmmakers of Disney Animation who love nothing more than sprinkling hidden references to some of Disney’s greatest animated features throughout the story.

 

• Scoretopia – Academy Award®-winning composer, Michael Giacchino spotlights five of cinema’s greatest percussionists and how they brought an organic, animalistic sound to his powerful and emotional music score.

 

• Deleted Characters – Directors Byron Howard and Rich Moore introduce citizens of Zootopia who did not make the final cut.

 

• Deleted Scenes:

  • Alternate Opening – Young Judy Hopps rescues a fellow classmate and realizes she can reach beyond a life in carrot farming to a future in law enforcement.

  • Wild Times! Pitch – Nick desperately pitches the bankers of Zootopia on funding Wild Times!, an amusement park made exclusively for the predators of Zootopia and a sure-fire, money-making scheme for Nick and his friends.

  • Alternate Homesick Hopps – After a frustrating first day on the force, Judy has a conversation with her parents.  See how this scene changed from a heartfelt conversation with her parents to tough love when her parents discover their daughter is only a meter maid and not a “real cop.”

  • Detective Work – Judy borrows a fellow police officer’s computer to conduct research, which turns out to be no small task.

  • Alternate Jumbo Pop – In this early version of the story where Nick was the main character, the filmmakers and Jason Bateman were able to take hustling to a new level.

  • Hopps’ Apartment – When Judy’s entire family pays her a surprise visit they are shocked to discover the company she’s keeping.

  • The Taming Party – In this emotional clip from an early version of “Zootopia,” Judy attends her first “taming party” and gains a deeper understanding of the plight of the predator.

  • “Try Everything” Music Video by Shakira

 

Let's Talk About It

Use these questions to spark discussion among family members who are interested in this movie:

 

• Everyone thought Judy was too small to become a policerabbit, but she knew otherwise. What is something you would like to do, even if it seems crazy and out of your reach?

 

• Judy's family had a rather bad impression of foxes, and were, honestly, rather scared of them. Tell about someone you were unsure about when you first met them, and how your opinion of them changed.

 

• Parents, tell your kids if you grew up with prejudice taught in your home or community (whether overtly or quietly). How did this shape you and effect the person you are today?

 

--JW

 

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