I saw Zootopia yesterday with a friend, and it was the kind of movie that made us talk about it the whole way home.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t a “wow, this movie is so great” kind of conversation. It was a “why in the hell do they insist on bringing a crappy message into what could have been a good movie?”
I won’t give too much away, in case anyone here wants to see it, but here are the main points for you.
First, the good. The movie was visually stunning, with great animation. The characters were very cute, and as realistic as anthropomorphic animals can be. The settings were pretty amazing, as Zootopia has different neighborhoods for various climates and environments (everything from a polar ice cap, to the Sahara, to a rain forest). The voice acting was very well done (Idris Elba and Alan Tudyk, to name a few), and the music was good, too.
Now for the bad, that overshadows the good.
This story can fit any one of a number of modern agendas, including the feminist agenda (female bunny rabbit who wants to be a police officer, and wouldn’t even have been allowed into the academy without the mayor’s new inclusive policy), the racial agenda (how dare you fear all the predators in Zootopia), and the homosexual agenda (if you are a fox, and you want to be an elephant when you grow up, you go right ahead, because this is Zootopia, and everything is possible). On that note, they even go out of there way to bring up the “it’s in their DNA, isn’t it?” when the predators in Zootopia “go savage” and start attacking everyone. So the prey, like the bunnies and mice and sheep and so on, are the mean, scared bullies who are afraid of the predators. How dare you! But this is Zootopia, where we can learn to be nice and accept everyone, and a bunny can be best friends with a fox, because anything is possible.
It could have been really good: the idea that if you work hard, you can achieve anything you want (the bunny did graduate as valedictorian from the police academy because she worked her little fluffy tail off, which could have been giving a good message about working hard and achieving your dreams). Instead, they went with the implication that if you want something that is physically impossible, you can have it, because it’s everyone’s duty to accept you, blah blah blah.
Fifteen years ago, it probably would have come across as a simple anti-bullying movie: don’t pick on people who are different from you, including the sloths, or the chubby leopard who works as the desk sergeant.
Don’t bully people who are different. These days, though, any message like that gets caught up by the LGBT-and-whatever-other-letters to fit their agenda. Instead of letting a kids’ movie teach kids to not bully the fat kid who sits next to them in class, we have to go out of our way to teach them not just to not bully the gay kid, but to actually approve of the gay kid.
Now, don’t jump down my throat because I said that. We’re Catholics; we are obliged to treat everyone with Christian charity at all times, even people we don’t agree with, and people who might be committing a very public sin. We love the sinner, but hate the sin. If that were my kid in the above example, of course I would teach him to treat the gay kid sitting next to him in class with respect and dignity. That would be a good message, and one I would approve. I would not, however, teach him that he has to think that homosexuality is acceptable.
That is the kind of thing that this movie tries to plant in kids’ heads. It’s more subtle than the flagrant pro-homosexual story line in Frozen, but not by much. Neither movie came right out and said that that’s what they’re doing, but the basic ideas — accept everyone, even if you’re scared of them and they’re different from you! You can be anything, even if it’s physically impossible! — are in there, and obvious enough to change the perceptions and behavior of small children who watch it.
On a more practical level, the movie is too scary for most children, and probably 90% of the humor was geared for the adults in the room. The kids sitting a few rows behind me laughed more in the previews than in the actual movie. Then my friend and I nearly died laughing at one point, where the movie did a long and involved reference to . . . shall we say a very famous gangster. Probably the most famous crime boss in movie history. Yeah, THAT one. I had to cover my mouth and really work to hold it in so that I wouldn’t disturb the other moviegoers, I was laughing so hard. None of the kids in the room got it, though.
Basically: I’d watch it if it came out on Amazon Prime, so I wouldn’t have to pay for it, but not otherwise, and even then, I’d probably fast-forward to the above-mentioned scene and just watch it over and over, until my sides hurt from laughing, and I had tears rolling down my face. My initial reaction to the movie was “oh, that was pretty cute, but . . .”
And there’s a really big BUT that goes along with it.
My advice? Don’t waste your money. If you have kids, let them watch something better. Like classic Star Trek. Indoctrinate them with good geekyness early on, and leave the political and societal indoctrination well enough alone.
Follow the squirrel minion to get to Lori’s website, Little Squirrel Books.