Zootopia (2016)

The year is only beginning, but I can already make a prediction about the Oscar next year in the animation category. Disney is gonna win again, and it doesn’t matter how good Kubo might be (even if Kubo is better), Zootopia will definitely win. That’s just how the Oscar works. But this time, it’s gonna deserve it totally. I have a feeling that Disney has been quietly sneaking up right behind Pixar in terms of substance in their cinematic storytelling, and Zootopia is their secret weapon to blow everyone’s mind of how good they could be. Disney is now the new Pixar, and if Pixar is not careful, they’re gonna be left behind, especially when LAIKA is so strong and consistent with their films every year.

Zootopia is a super funny, thrilling, thoroughly entertaining, packed full of pop-culture reference, all at the same time while being really really classy and subtle about it. The world building is super beautiful, super thoughtful, and every second of film, I could imagine how much thinking and how deep the film makers put their minds into creating this amazing world. Every little detail is surprising, interesting, and makes total sense in the context of this kind of world, but at the same time being super creative, funny, and pretty. The kids will definitely, 100% WILL love it to death. There were just way too many things for them to adore, from the world to the super lovable characters, not only their appearances, but also the depth of their personalities, and how diverse they are. Anyone and everyone in this film is a character that you and I might have met somewhere, some time, because we can understand their points of view, we can see through their minds and live their lives and feel their emotions, their experience.

It is so great also because it’s a genre film. It’s obviously an absolutely valid and incredibly well thought out detective film deserving of standing beside ANY serious live-action movie, if not even better. There’s an interesting mystery that’s full of surprises with several layers of depth, guaranteed to make you intrigued from start to finish, not only because of great writing, but also because of the amazing multi-dimension characters involved. The 2 lead characters carried the story really well because they are characters with deep psyche and convincing backgrounds that dictates their every action like actual people. Also they’re really funny and cute to watch, just absolutely adorable.

But that’s just scratching the surface of this film. I found myself and Kate discussing non-stop about it and the several layers of substance delivered by it hours after getting out of the theatre. It was not just a great animated film for kids to enjoy, it was a jab at the current state of the actual real world of humans we’re living in right now. Every single detail, every little moment in this film is an allegory about our society and its so many problems, both social and political. I could list out all the different messages it was trying to deliver to the audience, but the thing about this film is that it’s not any one single message, and not only on one single layer, but it’s a lot of different things at the same time, and on so many different level. To just say it out loud what it was saying is to make it that much more shallow than it actually is. But I could say this much: Prejudice and tolerance between different groups of people from different backgrounds in a diverse society is a real and serious problem, and the only way for us to actually evolve is to learn respect and acceptance rather than judging anything based solely on the face value. Everything that is wrong about the human world, it’s right there in the movie, it pulled no punch in tackling these ideas in the most subtle and lighthearted way possible so that the adults can have that guts feeling and the kids can laugh. Whenever you can “see” a certain allegory or metaphor in the film, you can feel it in your head and in your heart that this is an issue, and it’s very real, but you wouldn’t have a feeling that the film makers are “trying” to put these messages into the film. You can feel that they were just trying to tell a really really good and entertaining story, and these political and social problems just rose up organically in the process. It’s just a good story that happens to be also about these things. I believe there’s a lesson in here somewhere for other film makers just like myself.

So, as I said, it will not be like Frozen, Big Hero 6, or any previous Oscar win for Disney when they were just very entertaining and emotional films, but this time it’s an important film that has the power to change the world. The kids who are gonna grow up loving Zootopia, they’re going to remember it, learn from it subconsciously, and 10 years from now, they will understand everything that this movie is about. That’s why I recommend all of you to go to the theatre right now and see it, because it’s totally worth it.

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