Zootopia: Why We All Should See This Movie

Today I took my daughter to see Disney’s recently released “Zootopia”.

At one point, my daughter may have set aside her popcorn and quietly taken my hand.

At the end of it, I might have teared up, just a little.

But probably not for the usual reasons. (Or more accurately, in addition to the usual reasons.)

First and foremost, this is a movie made for families, with the usual humor thrown in that only the adults will get. It was a wonderful movie and we loved it for what it was:  entertaining, smart, funny, and clever.  Like many of the movies recently released by Disney, it also left you with something to think about – if you so choose.

Zootopia touched on the themes of friendship as well as bullying and the dangers of stereotyping – the former important to our school-aged children and the latter being particularly relevant in today’s political climate. (Which, by the way, is completely unintentional – the ideas evolved during months of research on animal behavior and sociology.) It managed to do all this without preaching, either.

If you think your kids are unaware of what’s happening right now, think again. They hear the news when you’re watching it. They hear the conversations you have. They hear jokes and other talk from other kids on the playground – and the information they get isn’t necessarily accurate, or what you want them to hear, either. They pick up on the tension and frustration that we feel.

And this movie offers some great opportunities to touch on some important topics that are relevant to them (while staying away from politics).

So if you see it, talk to them afterwards. There’s a lot of meat to the movie. See what they thought about the bullying that some of the characters endured as kids – and how it affected them when they grew up.

Talk to them about stereotyping – there’s a lot of great examples in the movie: dumb bunny, sly fox, the (adorable) overweight, donut eating cop.  Talk about what problems that arise when we stereotype or make blanket statements. We had a really great conversation on the way home about what happened when Judy Hopp gave a statement to the press – and how it took off and gained a life on its own.

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And about how many people were hurt by it, and what we need to watch out for in making assumptions ourselves.

Really, they are topics that we ALL need to think about.

Zootopia is also a movie that talks about the belief that you could become whatever you wanted to be if you persevered and worked hard, no matter who you are.  And THAT is a message our kids need to hear. It’s an idea that needs to stand strong today.

So, yes, I cried a bit at the end. The anger and hatred I see spewed on Facebook and then news makes my soul hurt. Our world has become a place where people don’t hesitate to speak their mind, to make accusations, damning the recipient and hurting others with their carelessly placed words. Yes, we have freedom of speech here, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have freedom of responsibility for what comes of those words.

Judy Hopp took responsibility for her words. That was a great lesson, too, but the her words that the movie ended on really hit home:

“I thought this city would be a perfect place where everyone got along and anyone could be anything. Turns out, life’s a little bit more complicated than a slogan on a bumper sticker. Real life is messy. We all have limitations. We all make mistakes. Which means, hey, glass half full, we all have a lot in common. And the more we try to understand one another, the more exceptional each of us will be. But we have to try. So no matter what kind of person you are, I implore you: Try. Try to make the world a better place. Look inside yourself and recognize that change starts with you.”

And that’s a message we could all benefit from hearing, too.

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Comments

  1. Very good Jenn. Can you send the movie to Trump.

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