Zootopia, Disney’s 55th animated feature, was an instant outstanding hit once it was released into theatres. Why? From an animation perspective, all the animals in Zootopia are stunningly crafted, bubbling with diverse personalities and looks that draw out their distinct features, captivating the hearts of the audience. However, on deeper hindsight, Zootopia provides a parable with invaluable lessons that casts a striking reflection on the image of present-day society. The story plot capitalises on the stereotypical sly fox, dumb bunny dynamic to capture the attention of the audience, before twisting their primitively prey-predator relationship to that of close friends who stick by each other in times of need, regardless of their differences.
On another dimension, Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin), the bunny whose ambition is to become a cop, demonstrates courage in pursuing her dreams and breaking predetermined boundaries set for each species based on their stereotypes. Judy aspires to be a police officer, and remains determined in overcoming numerous obstacles, eventually graduating as valedictorian of her class, proving that effort pays off. However, she is greeted with even more challenges that cause her to doubt her own ability, and struggles to be given recognition as an official police officer as Chief Bogo delegates her to be a meter maid, a demeaning job for any police officer. Nonetheless, her decision to take on the case of a missing otter and knack for tracking down evidence leads her to Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman), a sly fox whom she ends up partnering with to solve the case.
Nick himself also has a childhood story to tell, which confined him to the stereotypical characteristics of a fox – shifty and untrustworthy. He carries these traits into adulthood after being shunned for trying to step out of the norm as an adolescent when he was rejected by Junior Ranger Scouts. He becomes a popsicle hustler who resorts to trickery and deception in order to gain maximum profit. It is no surprise that he has associations with all sorts of shady characters, clubs and organisations. However, it certainly tugs on heartstrings as we see how he was forced to conform to society’s stereotypes, and the devastating impact it had on his future. Only through Judy does he realise that not all people judge him based on stereotypes, and regains enough courage to be himself, step out of the boundaries defined by stereotypes and become a police officer.
Whilst Zootopia promises an adventure punctuated with moments that are brimming with tension and suspense, it offers deep insights into our flawed society today, reflected by the stereotypes, discrimination and other issues that are deeply rooted in our society. The parallels to today’s society mean that these issues which has been shone upon by Zootopia are opened for reflection and discussion amongst global citizens. It has certainly hit a chord with audiences from all walks of life through its poignant storyline and strikingly accurate references to issues in our society that has yet to be entirely solved. Suitable for audiences of all ages, Zootopia is definitely not a movie to be missed.
Chloe Kho (2P)