Disclaimer: Disney sent me to Walt Disney World on an all-expenses paid trip, in exchange for my coverage of the #ZootopiaEvent, which included a screening of the movie and my Zootopia movie review. All opinions are my own. All photos courtesy of Disney.
Once Upon A Time in a land far, far away lived a bunny who lived a charmed life and had big dreams.
She wanted nothing more than to be a police officer. Through the years her parents encouraged her dreams. Her friends and community rallied behind her. She became that police officer, moved up the ranks, and life was easy and great.
WHOA! WAIT A MINUTE!
Life isn’t like that. And though I know we are talking about a make believe world, bear with me for a minute.
Life isn’t like that. Oh yes, life can be wonderful and full of joyous moments, but let’s be honest, life (even for animals who dress in the latest styles) has its challenges.
And that is the world that Disney’s ZOOTOPIA takes us to. A world, though filled with creatures and not humans, looks very similar to our own – not in architecture, but in the heart. A world that faces some of the very same social issues we deal with today. ZOOTOPIA couldn’t be more timely and you’ll find it has lessons for both children and adults.
So it is with this background that I bring you this NO-SPOILER ZOOTOPIA movie review – A Parent’s Guide to ZOOTOPIA!
Let’s start from the top. Meet Judy Hopps, or shall I say Officer Hopps.
It’s true. From the time she was a little bunny, she wanted nothing more than to be a police officer. She valued truth and honesty above all. She had big dreams though she was a small bunny – and a female bunny at that.
Judy had wonderful parents, Bonnie and Stu Hopps, and hundreds of brothers and sisters (like most rabbit families). They lived a very normal country lifestyle being carrot farmers and had hoped that Judy and her siblings would follow in their footsteps. But Judy’s dreams were bigger than that carrot farm and her parents struggled with that.
When Judy becomes an officer, she moves to Zootopia, a city like no other. Neighborhoods are diverse – Sahara Square, The Burrows, Rainforest District and frigid Tundratown. Animals from every environment live together in harmony, well, except there is still a need for police officers to keep order and solve crimes. But it is here in Zootopia where predator lives alongside prey.
Though Judy worked so hard to become an officer, she soon realized that life wouldn’t be easy WITHIN the police department. She would face scrutiny from those around her – it would be an uphill battle despite all her hard work and smarts.
In fact, despite everything, Chief Bogo assigned her the role of “meter maid” initially. She was disappointed and frustrated. Though devastated, she set out to be the best “meter maid” ever. And did.
Determined to prove herself, she volunteers to solve a missing-animals case, the most important case facing Zootopia at the time. Judy quickly learns that she needs the help of a conniving fox, Nick Wilde, to help her crack the case and prove to everyone that she is worthy of being on the police force.
NO SPOILERS – That’s the basic story. I’m going to leave out all the details about the mysterious case. It’s the issues I want to mention and what you need to know as a parent.
Is it Scary for Children? Why the PG Rating?
Zootopia is rated PG (for some thematic elements, rude humor and action).
I remember when I took my daughter to see her first movie in a theatre. I was excited. Turned out there was one scene that really shook her up in Toy Story 3. What I’ve learned since then is that parents need to know ahead of time what challenges might be present in a movie for their kids – scary, emotional parts. If a child is prepared, a much-loved film becomes that much easier to tackle in big, dark room.
So that is what I want to do for you – help you prepare your child, if needed. You know your child better than anyone.
There are a few things to note:
- There are no tears in this film. There are no loved characters who tragically die.
- There were 2 large animal growl scenes in the film which could startle young children. The first is at the VERY beginning – and it turns out not to be a scary animal at all (but animal kids pretending). If you prepare your child for that, I think they’d be okay. I’m even warning my 8 year old.
- There are bullying scenes in the film among animals and a scene that I think goes over the heads of children where they talk about and show animals who don’t wear clothes (as if it’s crude). Since animals in our world don’t wear clothes, it wasn’t a concern.
ZOOTOPIA’S Lessons for Parents and Children
Disney doesn’t forget that parents are in the audience.
I was quickly reminded of that when Judy Hopps’ parents come onto the big screen. They are the most lovable parents and Judy loves them dearly. But like many parents, they were filled with fear.
Here’s the thing – as a parent, you are often filled with fear about your child’s safety, future, etc. But when that fear goes too far, it can be devastating to a child.
Judy Hopps wanted to be that police officer since she was little – it’s the first thing in the movie we really see. It’s a desire. It’s a big dream. And she’s ready and willing to do the work to get there.
But her parents, they are scared. They know Judy is a little bunny and know that most police officers are larger than life animals who are tough and strong. They are scared for her physically. They are scared for her future. And unfortunately we see that from an early age, Mr. and Mrs. Hopps discourage Judy. They suggest other options. They don’t support her dream.
That hit me really hard sitting in the movie theatre.
You see, from the time I was a little girl I knew what I wanted to be in this world. I proudly announced my career choice to my family and anyone else who would listen. There was no other option for me. I had a dream.
Now, I know the personalities of my parents. I know they had to be scared out of their minds for a little girl in the 1970s to dream of heading off into what then was considered a man’s world. Maybe they thought it was a long shot. Maybe they thought I would change my mind when I got older. Maybe they were just so scared they didn’t say a word. Whatever it was that they thought – to this day I don’t know it. The gift they gave me from my early childhood on is that they raised me to believe I could be anything. And with an insane amount of hard work and determination, I did just that.
Judy Hopps didn’t have that from her parents. Oh, and I sat there wishing she did.
Though there’s a lesson for parents obviously there, kids of all ages can gather a lesson too – even when noone believes in you, even when it’s only you who sees the dream, work hard and remember ANYBODY can be ANYTHING. Whether you’re a boy, a girl, a rabbit, a fox, young, old, white, black, green, blue……you get the picture.
Chances are there will be children sitting in theatres this weekend who need to hear this message.
Chances are there will be parents sitting in theatres this weekend who need to hear this message.
Disney is impacting lives with ZOOTOPIA.
But they didn’t stop there……..they tackle other timely social issues like bullying, racism, stereotyping, friendship and more.
As we talked about with Jason Bateman (who plays fox, Nick Wilde), ZOOTOPIA is a great resource and tool for parents. It can be used as a great starting point for conversation to talk about these issues. I love that and will be taking advantage of it.
As with all their movies, Disney brings us smiles and laughter too – that’s what makes these movies so incredibly successful.
Unlike the Disney movies of decades past, you can count on the fact that there will be jokes that are just for the adults. I even missed a joke (all the adults were laughing) because I never watched “Breaking Bad”. My favorite adult reference is one thankfully you see throughout the film – it’s so funny. GODFATHER fans will love the film because of it!
P.S. Parents – read what Jason Bateman had to say about fear and parenting during my interview – it’s exactly what we all need to hear. Plus, you’ll find out how Jason Bateman helped me teach my daughter to dream big! And she did!
ZOOTOPIA Now Playing in Theatres Everywhere!
Be sure to check out my other posts from the ZOOTOPIA Event:
YOU WILL ALSO LOVE:
If you like this post, you’ll love these that I’ve picked out just for you! Don’t forget to check out my travel tab for even more Disney posts.