Have we established yet that I’m a little behind on watching movies that aren’t related to the Oscars? Like, occasionally a year behind? Well, I recently went on vacation, and the best part about a long plane ride – especially one where you’re trying to stay awake – is that you can take advantage of the entertainment systems. Things have improved so much over the years. I remember the days of there being one or two movies on a big screen, and craning your neck, or then when it was still just the one movie, but with more smaller screens dropping from the ceiling. We’ve entered the day and age where we all now have screens on the back of seats (or in armrests), and not only do you get to choose which movie you watch, you have your choice of dozens if not not hundreds of movies. It’s crazy awesome. So I saw this as an opportunity to catch up on a few more recent films that I had missed in the theaters but needed to see. First up is Zootopia.
I’d heard wonderful things about this movie from early on. How it was very funny for kids and adults (something that seems a requirement for animated movies these days), but that it did that in a smart way that didn’t pander to either side too much at any particular time. That it was likely to spur a new generation of furrys because of the anthropomoricized animals – some of the lady animals are a little sexy, and can we talk about Gazelle’s tiger dancers in hot pants? Oh my!
What I didn’t expect is how many other terrific things there were in the movie. First off – a tribute to the Godfather. That’s one of my favorite movies of all time, and seeing it sent up in such an adorable and hilarious way was a treat.
We also got a spoof on Breaking Bad, which cracked me up, because I saw it coming, and was poking the Boy as he sat next to me watching a different movie and going “OMG it’s Breaking Bad!!! How did they get this in a kids movie???” There are even characters named Jesse and Walt. He smiled at me as I gushed because when he’d seen it earlier in the year with his daughters, I think he had that same moment of joy.
Perhaps one of the best parts of the movie was our main character, Judy Hopps who is terrific on so many levels. First off, she has a dream – to join the Zootopia Police force – and she doesn’t let anyone else deter her from that dream. She knows it’s going to be difficult since the police are usually larger, stronger animals. So what does she do? She works hard – really, really hard. We see her staying up later than her fellow recruits, reading the training manuals and learning them forwards and back. Pushing herself in difficult situations, and using her natural skills to balance the ones that others have. That alone is super inspiring.
She’s also not really sexualized in any way. Not once do we get comments from other characters about having a boyfriend, or shots of her dressed up all sexy (in a way that the furrys would probably love). Her main companion throughout the movie is a male character, and while he may try to schmooze his way around her, he’s doing it in a con artist way, and not in a “I’m hitting on you” way. Their relationship throughout the movie is established as one of combative friendship, and while I’m sure there are lots of people out there who are hoping for a Judy-Nick romance in the future…it’s not something that was strongly implied in the actual movie. The idea of having a platonic female-male relationship held up on screen that doesn’t lead to romance is something that kids need to see more of.
And finally – Judy’s competence. She’s good at her job. Like…really good at it. She knows what she’s doing, and may be uncertain at times since she’s fairly new, but the basics are things she has a handle of. She’s quick on her feet (see: conning Nick into helping her), and follows through. She is resourceful, and kind, and succeeds in her job by doing it well and supporting the people around her. When she sees that something is wrong, she follows through to make sure it is righted. She’s an amazing role model for little girls and big girls alike.
I obviously wasn’t the only person who loved this movie, since it made more than a billion dollars. But who else reading my post has seen the movie and enjoyed it? Or not enjoyed it? Did you love Judy as much as I did? Find those tigers oddly sexual creatures for a “kids” movie? Love the pop-culture references? Or more the message of following through on your dreams? So much to talk about here.
Details: Zootopia (or Zootropolis, if you’re watching on British Airways), written by Jared Bush and Phil Johnston, directed by Byron Howard, Rich Moore, and Jared Bush. Available on DVD/Blu-Ray, VOD (iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, etc.).