Movie Review: Significant life lessons from talking animals

Movie Review: Significant life lessons from talking animals

By ANUBHAV PARSHEERA | | 12 March, 2016
Poster of Zootopia


Director: Byron Howard, Rich Moore
Starring: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba

An idealistic bunny Judy (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin) becomes the first ever bunny to become a cop against all odds. After facing discrimination at the workplace for being perceived as an outsider, she finds an unlikely ally in the con artist fox Nick Wilde(voiced by Jason Bateman) who is battling his own demons. Their relationship is lifted straight from the standard template of Govinda-Karisma movies, where the protagonists loathe each other to begin with, only to start liking each other half way through.

When one goes for a film with a bunny as a cop, a fox as her friend, a buffalo as a top cop and a lion as mayor, one does not expect a barrage of life lessons. Sometimes it takes a bunch of talking animals to tell us that we’re behaving like animals. The parallels with modern day society are thinly veiled and the barbs come thick and fast through the duration of the film. Co-written by Jared Bush and Phil Johnston, the script’s greatest strengths also turn into its greatest weaknesses from time to time. The film veers dangerously close to preachy territory in the pursuit of sending across a message. 

The portrayal is likely to hurt the feelings of the sloth community, which is already under-represented in films.

Zootopia is a deceptively layered film thinly veiled as a feel-good talking animal animated film. It may be feel-good fare but it is also much more. Set in a utopian future where all animals, irrespective of their place in the food chain get along, the town of Zootopia is plagued by sudden and stray attacks by predators. What follows is sharply reminiscent of the ills that plague present day humanity. As a result of the attacks, predatory creatures are isolated and watched with suspicion and are seen as possible attackers. Their society might have developed in leaps and bounds on the surface, but prejudice is never too far from the surface.

The two misfits come together to unearth a conspiracy designed to instil fear among the masses. Together they battle an unknown enemy, while busting the stereotypes of the sly fox, and the cute bunny. They prove that labels can be deceptive, unless of course one is dealing with sloths. Undoubtedly the most memorable few minutes in the movie are an exasperating encounter the protagonists have with sloths who work at a DMV. The portrayal is likely to hurt the feelings of the sloth community, which is already under-represented in films. Another splendid recurring gag is that of an arctic shrew as a Godfather-like mob boss Mr Big, hilariously voiced by Maurice LaMarche.

At a time when supposedly civilised society, especially cops are accused of bias, communities are singled out on the basis of their religion and branded a threat, and rich white businessmen with tiny fingers running for president fan fires such as these, Zootopia is a relevant watch. When both sides of the argument keep getting louder and we forget we were arguing about amidst the noise, we need a talking rabbit to show us the folly of our ways.  If you’re looking for life lessons and wisdom but are sick of people on your television set or your newspapers defining right and wrong for you, you can always do it the good old way by hearing it from talking animals.  Zootopia is highly recommended.


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