8 Things Parents Should Know About ‘Zootopia’

Reading Time: 3 minutes
Officer Hopps, Nick, and Flash. Image copyright Disney.
Officer Hopps, Nick, and Flash. Image copyright Disney.

1. What’s it about?

It’s about an adorable bunny, Judy Hopps, who always wanted to be a police officer, and, when she achieves her dream job, has to prove herself all over again.

In other words, it’s a “girl goes to the big city” story. Except the girl is a smart, stubborn bunny and the big city, Zootopia, is divided into numerous “neighborhoods,” home to different animal species such as Sahara Square, Tundratown, Little Rodentia, and the Rainforest District.

It was this terrific visual sequence, about 1/3 into the movie, where Judy Hopps travels to Zootopia, that first made me think “this movie is going to be a classic.”

Hopps has to investigate a series of disappearances among the “predator” species of animals with the help of Nick Wilde, a fox who makes his living as a small-time con artist. Because, you know, you can’t trust foxes, especially if you’re a bunny.

2. Who’s in it?

Ginnifer Goodwin voices Judy, Jason Bateman voices Nick, and they’re both terrific. Listen for Idris Elba.

3. Will the whole family like it?

I went to the free screening accompanied by my 16-year-old twins who, let’s face it, were in it for the free popcorn and soda that I provided. They expected a cute animal cartoon and not much more.

“That was really, really good,” said the cynical son. “Not stupid like I thought it would be.”

“That was awesome,” said the less critical daughter.

I agreed with them both and, given the laughter in the audience from all ages, I’m going to go out on a limb and say this movie is definitely one the whole family will enjoy.

4. Yes, it has a theme.

On the surface, this movie is about proving yourself to people who misjudge you. Under the surface, there’s a running commentary on racism.

Nick, a predator, is pushed out of activities as a kid because the non-predator mammals don’t trust him. Judy, small and spunky, is given a job as a meter maid because her intelligence isn’t valued and, besides, as a bunny, she’s not fierce enough to be a police officer.

There’s also a plot twist about 2/3 of the movie that recalls the #blacklivesmatter movement. I kid you not. Yes, cute furry animals are on screen but this movie has a serious edge.

5. But it’s funny too!

If you’ve seen any of the trailers, you’ve seen the bit with the sloths running the DMV. That scene is better in context, too. But, moreover, there are several laugh-out-loud sequences, including a joke that pays off right near the ending credits, and Nick has some terrific lines.

There’s also a running joke about self-insertion dancing app. I can’t give away more because that would ruin the joke.

6. Are there any super-scary parts for younger kids?

There is one “haunted house/evil laboratory” sequence that is scary, one early bullying sequence that’s short, and a few attacks by the “predators” that are intense, but no parent deaths (yay!). I’d say this is one that will entertain younger kids but not scare them unduly, if at all.

7. Any inside movie jokes?

Yes, spot the different movie homages. Saying The Godfather is included among them is giving nothing away, but the others are there as well.

Not to mention the Breaking Bad reference.

8. Should I see it in 3D?

We saw it in 3D IMAX because we attended a free screening. Usually, we see everything in 2D and not IMAX because my daughter who wears glasses has trouble with seeing things correctly in 3D and because the sound can be overwhelming in IMAX.

Zootopia‘s story is strong enough that it will hold up in 2D. However, Disney has done a great job layering in the visuals to be immersive in 3D. That allowed us to sink into the action on screen. (Once I was adjusted my daughter’s 3D glasses, that is.)

The IMAX volume worried me because the previews were so loud I wished I had earplugs. But once the movie started, the volume was appropriate to sensitive young ears.

So, yes, if you like 3D and can afford it, it’s good. If you can’t afford it, well, you’ll still enjoy the movie.

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