I haven’t participated in Hit Me with Your Best Shot in a while because of traveling and not being interested in the selections but this week I had to participate! If you don’t know Hit Me with Your Best Shot is a series by Nathaniel over at the Film Experience where a bunch of bloggers all watch the same film and pick one shot that conveys that film to us. You can see all my entries here. Like I said, this week I had to participate because the topic is Disney’s latest animated classic Zootopia!
I have spoken, dissected, reviewed Zootopia in about every way you can. My friend AJ and I spent over 90 minutes discussing every last detail of the film.
I even recently reviewed The Art of Zootopia.
But I want to address one of the complaints I’ve heard about the film. People say the messaging is too heavy-handed and that the metaphor falls apart. To those that make this claim I would like to introduce you to something called a FABLE!
As the definition implies a fable is a story that exists to teach a lesson usually to children. To me saying Zootopia is heavy-handed is as insane as saying the Tortoise and the Hare or the Boy Who Cried Wolf are too heavy handed. THEY ARE FABLES!!! Again, they exist to teach lessons to children. Are nursery rhymes heavy handed? Do we need to not read the Lion and the Mouse or other Aesops Fables to kids any more because they are too heavy-handed? Give me a break…
I mean what’s next someone claim the tortoise and hare metaphor is flawed because it doesn’t show a broad range of athletes in the race! Of course not, all fables and all metaphors are at a certain point flawed. But they teach the lesson they are meant to teach to children. Talk about overthinking it.
But Zootopia isn’t just a fable for children. There’s lots for adults too-
Now what makes Zootopia special is it takes a fable about prejudice (amongst other things that people always forget about like bullying and never giving up) and adds a detective story that’s very entertaining. It has all the flavor of a film noir buddy cop story we used to get in the 80s with great chemistry between Judy and Nick. AND even more than that it has amazing world building with an incredible attention to detail for each of the lands of Zootopia. The voice acting is superb and it has tremendous heart.
But even adding to the greatness of Zootopia is how funny it is. There are tons of background jokes in signs, dvd covers and the like but there also great primary jokes. My favorite that still makes me laugh each time is Mr Big and his skunk rug. This is a play up on the Godfather meant to entertain adults. Everything down to the design of the wedding is a perfect send up and it makes me laugh.
In this scene with Mr Big, you also get some key elements of the fable. We learn that “My child. We may be evolved, but deep down, we are still animals.” Deep down inside we all have weaknesses and prejudices we pretend aren’t there but that is no excuse. Through the story Judy realizes her own ‘deep down inside’ feelings and learns to be a better person (or bunny)!
So for me the best shot combines humor, beautiful lighting and design, and a memory of what Judy has just learned. It has everything I love about Zootopia- a film which I think is the best Disney non-musical since 101 Dalmatians and one of the only truly memorable movies of 2016