Arts & Entertainment

Zootopia teaches lessons on inclusion and race

Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Studios
Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Studios

Walt Disney Studios released another film that will join its other animated feature films—“Zootopia.”

The studio is making headlines with its superheroes films, but “Zootopia” reminds audiences of what Disney does best—making animated films with an excellent narrative.

The plot in “Zootopia” revolves around two cops, a rabbit named Judy Hopps, voiced by actress Ginnifer Goodwin, and a fox named Nick Wilde, voiced by actor Jason Bateman.

The film uses a classic trope of buddy cops found in films like “48 Hours” and “Midnight Run.” Children will enjoy the two lead characters, while adults will like the nostalgia of two partners solving crimes.

Disney always did well with young girls through its iconic Disney princesses. With Hoops, the studio created a female character that is an action hero, not a damsel in distress.

Furthermore, the imagery in the film is incredible. It is detailed and imaginative, especially with the wide shots of the city. But further depictions of the size and scope of the city, along with its zones, would have helped.

The film does well in using allegories. For example, the film uses predators and preys to talk about race or a group deemed as the “other.” It even uses overt references to race like the word “token.”

This issue is seen in one scene when Hopps is called cute by Benjamin Clawhauser, a cheetah. She explains other bunnies can call each other cute, but finds it weird when other animals do.

Moreover, the film encourages acceptance and inclusion. The motto of the city is “In Zootopia, anyone can be anything.”

Still, in a city with this motto, the only characters who appear queer are Hopps’ angry neighbors. It might have been better to have more characters who are queer and add to the film’s social commentary.

Other actors do well in the film. J.K. Simmons’ performance as Mayor Lionheart, a lion, is similar to Simmons’ role of J. Jonah Jameson in the “Spider-Man” trilogy directed by Sam Raimi.

There are even some parts in the film that only adults will understand. Two memorable references are “The Godfather” and “Breaking Bad.” With the latter, the film includes a blue drug produced, yellow hazmat suits and two rams named Jesse and Walter.

Both adults and kids will love “Zootopia.” For anyone unmoved to see gerbils in tiny business suits, actor Tommy Chong as a yak named Yax at a naturalist club where bears “go bear” will loosen them up.

In a world where mediocre films like “Hotel Transylvania 2” exist, smart, funny animated films like “Zootopia” need support from audiences as it is enjoyable and entertaining.

Jake Cohen

Jake is a Long Island native with an encyclopedic knowledge of Chris Claremont's run on X-Men and other useless pop culture trivia. In his spare time he enjoys puppies, kitties, and sandwiches.

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