Zootopia – A Christian Dad’s Review

16-03-23-Zootopia-Twitter

 

If you make it to the theater to see Disney’s latest animated film Zootopia, be sure to take your thinking cap with you. Also, be ready to answer some tough questions that will come from the back seat when you leave. This film does not go light on message and addresses concepts like racial profiling, bullying, nature vs nurture, and finding identity.

The star of the film is bunny rabbit Judy Hopps, who as a young bunny in a school play, explains to the audience how animals who are predators and animals who are prey have all evolved to be able to live peacefully together. Throughout the movie, we see that animals who may have previously been enemies live together in harmony…for the most part. While the animals live peacefully together, we see that discrimination runs rampant among species.

Judy grows up on her family’s carrot farm, but she has big dreams of moving to the big city of Zootopia to become a police officer. However, as a tiny bunny, Judy is treated as inferior by her boss and given the position of meter maid, while the larger animals get to do what she considers to be real police work. She dreams of solving a missing persons mammal case, but as a meter maid, isn’t given the chance. With a desire to do important work, Judy is determined to dive into the investigation after she meets Nick Wilde, a con artist fox who just might have the exact information she needs to solve the case.

That’s when Zootopia takes a turn and essentially becomes a hard-boiled L.A. detective story with buddy cop elements.

The investigation into missing mammals leads Judy and Nick through some close calls with a feral panther, the “Italian” mob, and some rams up to no good. They get to know one another and become friends despite the fact that one of them is a predator and the other is prey, despite the idea that one is a cop and the other a criminal, despite their difference in height…you get it. It’s all told in classic Disney manner with some really clever humor and slapstick. When predators in Zootopia begin to go “savage” it turned much darker. Judy and Nick discover that something is causing normally civilized animals to turn back to their vicious roots. The missing mammals case transforms into an investigation into what is causing the animals to become so dangerous.

There are very strong allusions to xenophobia and racism present in every facet of this movie, which could be great conversation starters for talking to kids about treating everyone fairly. Nick attempts to buy a popsicle from an elephant-only ice cream shop and faces discrimination due to his species. You see “prey” mothers shielding their children from “predators” on the bus when they sit too closely because they might go savage. When it’s theorized that the savage predators are possibly falling victim to their biology, it creates a rift between Nick and Judy as they are each predator and prey.

Things to watch out for:

There are many violent scenes. As a young bunny, Judy experiences intense bullying in the first few minutes of the film and we later learn that Nick also experienced cruel bullying as a child because his fellow cub scouts believed they couldn’t trust a fox. In a later scene, a panther goes “savage,” which is very realistically portrayed.

We asked two Christian dads what they thought about Zootopia and how to extend the lessons from the movie into conversations with your kids.

Bill says:

There are some scenes in this film where my 6 ½-year-old son closed his eyes and covered his ears. Because of these violent scenes, I recommend this movie for kids that are older. Don’t expect to take your 4-year-old and have a good night’s sleep.

Throughout the entire movie, we’ve seen Nick behave like a stereotypical fox. He’s slick, manipulative, and clever. It’s explained that after he was bullied as a child, he leaned into his nature in defeat and became the thing the scout kids that bullied him saw him as – a dangerous fox. But we also see as the movie progresses that he begins to use these traits for good. He’s slick, manipulative, and clever in order to help catch the bad guys. The movie attempts to posit that we should escape our nature and be who we want to be, but then shows its characters doing exactly the opposite. They embrace who they are and solve the mystery of the missing predators. For me, the movie’s analogy falls apart.

I really liked aspects of this movie. The animation is some of the best we’ve seen in a feature film to date. The voice acting is perfect and the jokes land very nicely. For the most part, the messages presented in the movie are solid, and ultimately, it’s up to me to present the Gospel to my son as needed. He needs to know that his nature is pure and God wants to use him in the way he was designed. The conversation about identity and acceptance of others needs to be had but in the correct context. I’m not sure Zootopia is the correct venue for the discussion.

Jim says:

Zootopia isn’t what I expected at all, but it far exceeded my expectations.

It was more violent and darker than I anticipated, but most Disney movies tend to have a heavy side (Have you re-watched any from your childhood recently? You may be surprised at how intense they can be!), but the theme is so important for the world today.

The major message I took away from Zootopia is to not let fear win. I found the storyline of not treating people (animals, really) differently because of their DNA so poignant in today’s cultural climate. There are many parallels to today’s society in Zootopia that parents will pick up on and be able to address in an age-appropriate way with their children.

I think it will be a great tool for talking to older kids about acceptance and treating everyone fairly.


 

Bill Segroves is a Former hip-hop M.C. Once aspiring comic book artist. Recovering retail manager. Hopeful communicator.
Editor In Chief at SluffWork.com

Jim Taylor is a communications manager for an online retailer. He loves taking his daughter Lucy to see movies!


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40 comments
windypappas
windypappas

I thought the naked animal idea was pretty funny, but that scene went WAY too far:  All the women animals were upside down with their legs spread wide apart.  or clear bent over... while the camera zoomed goofy & awkwardly  in on their crotches?   This isn't what hippies do, or yoga is about.  It was way over the top!  So rude and insulting to women & their bodies, and unnecessary!  The worst is the peer pressure that the fox that he put on the bunny to go in, even though she felt uncomfortable, she was weak if she looked away.  Should kids look at things that make them feel uncomfortable???  

After watching this:

My 9 year old son came to me and said he thought that scene was weird, and didn't like it.

My 14 year old daughter was mortified and upset that it's the norm now to put women out in sexual positions in (up-side down spreading her legs) in kids movies now.  She though that was only for rap video.

windypappas
windypappas

I thought the naked animal idea was pretty funny, but that scene went WAY too far:  All the women animals were upside down with their legs spread wide apart.  or clear bent over... while the camera zoomed goofy & awkwardly  in on their crotches?   This isn't what hippies do, or yoga is about.  It was way over the top!  So rude and insulting to women & their bodies, and unnecessary!  The worst is the peer pressure that the fox that he put on the bunny to go in, even though she felt uncomfortable, she was weak if she looked away.  Should kids look at things that make them feel uncomfortable???  

After watching this:

My 9 year old son came to me and said he thought that scene was weird, and didn't like it.

My 14 year old daughter was mortified and upset that it's the norm now to put women out in sexual positions in (up-side down spreading her legs) in kids movies now.  She though that was only for rap video.

Chandra Lee
Chandra Lee

Haha. We liked it. But...They both missed the whole "nudest colony" part in their reviews. A yak with flys swarming his dreadlocks tslks about being in a nudest colony, then takes the bunny and fox past "nude" animal's doing yoga and i forget what else, to an elephant who keeps stretching her bum toward the screen. The bunny is clearly ebarassed by the whole thing gets a bunch of information... Granted it's animals, so there's nothing odd about naked animals, but they were presented as if they were human in the movie so it was a strange clip of animals saying they were nude, doing yoga and the bunny being very embarrassed by the whole ordeal. It all was funny really, but that part could bring up more questions than the prejudices brought up in the film for kids who know what naked is but don't yet understand prejudice. "Mommy, what's a nudest?" isn't likely on the top 20 favorite questions list. "Do you remember when the such and such animal did 'this' mom?" Is a moment that will surely (not) be memorialized in albums forever lol.

Atzy
Atzy

Actually he says it's a "naturalist colony" and then goes into an explanation of that concept as they are walked through the colony to meet the yoga instructor. And while I agree that some of the posing was provocative, the character models are as anatomically correct as a Ken doll, so it comes of as more funny than sexual. I really didn't think anything of it.

What I find more interesting is that seemingly no one picks up on Judy's homosexual neighbours.

Sarah Hastings Falk
Sarah Hastings Falk

It scared my 8 year old boy. He called it a DaddyFail. \U0001f61f. My two youngers were fine?

Kay Whiteville
Kay Whiteville

I thoroughly enjoyed this movie, it had so many lessons to learn as human beings!

Maria Rollan
Maria Rollan

My kids LOVED this movie I thought it was cute

Rebekah Elliott
Rebekah Elliott

Thanks for this review. We want to see it and loved it.

Linda Rivera
Linda Rivera

It start at home society has been feeding kids all over the world with the idea that everything is good its all how you see it...newbreak that how lucifer took half the angels of heaven!!! By deceiving them that same goes on in the world we live in...as for we and my house i will serve the Lord Joshua 24:15

Stepy Townsend
Stepy Townsend

I can completely agree with taking younger kids to this movie, we took my 6 year old nephew to see it and he was frightened for much of the movie :(.... We didn't realize how dramatic it was going to be, however it was a great movie and taught a lot of valuable lessons

Abigail Bidelspach
Abigail Bidelspach

I think as Christians, we sometimes shy away from exposing our kids to the in the world stuff and forget if we don't have those discussions with them, others (maybe not people who give them Godly information) will. Use something like this to address these issues before it is done by others. Yes, there are scary parts. It is about animals, and predator vs prey is not inherently a bad discussion. If we want to shelter our kids from violence then the bible shouldn't be taught either, lest we forget th

Abigail Bidelspach
Abigail Bidelspach

(Sorry for the cut off) lest we forget why God flooded the earth.

Kasey Gervais
Kasey Gervais

we loved this movie. it was a nice change of pace from the super sad movies they keep coming out with for kids. and unless your child scares easily, the action is just part of the adventure.it was a movie my 3 year old, my grandmother and myself could enjoy

Beth Lee
Beth Lee

My friend and I went and seen this movie and we loved it. By the way we are 17 years old. It had great morals in it and it is a good family movie!

Candace Mobley
Candace Mobley

We loved the movie. My son is 15 with special needs. He loves action movies and any live action animal movies. Awesome movie.

Bretaishe Harris
Bretaishe Harris

Christian people need the first live a Christian life before they charge us a little kids movie. at the end of the day if you were looking that hard to see the Illuminati sign and all that other crazy stuff then you are not getting the message that the movie was sending. and that's why it was a kids movie because kids are not going to notice that stuff!!!

Andrea Rosario
Andrea Rosario

We saw it, took the good discarded the bad, our kids were able to identify all the wrong things in it, our 11 yr old even saw the (all seeing eye) used by illuminati. We should teach our kids the word of God always and show them to be analytical, alert and ready to recognize what is wrong and how to react.

Joseph Zimmerman
Joseph Zimmerman

You know... sometimes the all seeing eye, is not really there. You know how you can think things are there but they really are another thing?

BilliSwann
BilliSwann

Flee even the appearance of evil...

Jenny A Wheeler
Jenny A Wheeler

I read plugged in review. Lately I've been questioning their reviews. They voted 4 out of 5 stars. "Nudist colony"?....... I wouldn't have given it more than maybe 2 stars? And pushing the tolerance of different lifestyles? Come on. But at least plugged in wrote about the "Nudist colony"

Sandy Peckenpaugh
Sandy Peckenpaugh

This was awful! Completely a politely charged movie. \U0001f61e Sucks.

Reina Lenek
Reina Lenek

No thanks I am positive we can teach values to children in a hell of a lot better ways than this.

BilliSwann
BilliSwann

Yup... I see a lot of compromise... non-christian conpiracy theorists are calling out Disney on their corrupt practices while Christians make excuses and expose their kids to this for entertainments.sake...

Crystal Cazares
Crystal Cazares

I took my almost 4 year old and I really wish I hadn't. I thought it was going to be a cute movie about animals talking and doing cute stuff. I had watched some previews, it looked fine. I was ashamed when they went to a nudest colony, or when they "went savage" and started attacking each other. It has a lot of themes that were over her head, but some of the stuff at her level was still pretty dark. Whatever is good, whatever is right, whatever is noble..... Not this movie

Crystal Cazares
Crystal Cazares

Yeah, I will be way more careful to look at the rating and read the reviews in the future.

Rebecca Wilkins McDowell
Rebecca Wilkins McDowell

It has a PG rating. When my kids were under 8, they never saw a movie rated anything other than G.

Jenny A Wheeler
Jenny A Wheeler

"Nudist" colony? Why wasn't this mentioned in the article?

Joseph Zimmerman
Joseph Zimmerman

Jenny A Wheeler It's Disney, it's not really a Nudist colony. stop blowing things out of proportion!

insaneshayne
insaneshayne

LOL!


If you believe in the bible, we all started out in a "nudist colony". Nothing wrong with a naked body...


Meghan Griffith
Meghan Griffith

Totally agree with Crystal!! It wasn't just animals sunbathing without clothes on. They were doing seductive yoga poses-spreading their legs & bending over in the background through the whole scene! It was disgusting. It was very sexualized. And I'm also surprised none of that was mentioned in these reviews. It shows the level to which christians have assimilated to worldly ways.

Kara Marie
Kara Marie

Jenny, the nudist colony was an area the animals were sunbathing without clothes on. There wasn't any private body parts displayed... just animals how you see them in any cartoon where they don't wear clothing.

Crystal Cazares
Crystal Cazares

If it had just been animals shown without clothes my kid probably wouldn't have noticed, but they said the word naked over and over and she knows what naked means. Like I said some of the stuff about racism and such were just over her head and she won't really catch it. The parts that were the worst in my mind are the parts my kid did catch. I will be extra careful in the future. I love going to the drive in movie and letting my kid play out in the field before the movie starts and then we all eat dinner together and enjoy a movie. It's a great tradition and when she was younger she would fall asleep in the back of the car while we finished the movie, but now that she's getting older I have to be more careful so we don't get to go as much.

windypappas
windypappas

I don't mind the 'naked' animals...pretty funny.  I just hated all the women with their legs spread wide apart and up-side down while the cameras zoomed in on their private areas.  The bunny was told to go in  to get evidence, even though she felt uncomfortable?  Not even okay for women to be disrespected so much or anyone to be peer pressured.

BilliSwann
BilliSwann

I see a lot of compromise... non-christian conpiracy theorists are calling out Disney on their corrupt practices while Christians make excuses and expose their kids to this for entertainments.sake...