This is the 55th official Walt Disney Animated Classics movie, and it's by far the most mature. The plot doesn't sound all that grown-up: "In a city of anthropomorphic animals, a rookie bunny cop and a cynical con artist fox must work together to uncover a conspiracy." (IMDB). However, it is much more than that. Here are 9 reasons why Zootopia is brilliantly, savagely subversive.
1. Zootopia is not a Disney animated movie. It's a metaphor for modern society... that just happens to be animated by Disney. I don't know any other Disney move that starts with the words "Fear. Treachery. Bloodlust."
2. It's set in an anthropomorphic city (which means animals take on the role of people, and do people things. This movie will be in the library of every furry in the world.) A 24-year old rabbit named Judy Hopps gets hired to the police force because the city has a Mammal Inclusion Initiative. As a token symbol of diversity, she immediately gets assigned to give parking tickets.
As a result of political maneuvering, Officer Hopps is assigned to a Missing Predator case, so she enlists the help of a street-hustling fox named Nick (who looks too much like The Fantastic Mr. Fox for it to be a coincidence) to help her out. Together they uncover a conspiracy... inside a conspiracy. And this is not a cute conspiracy, like to win a blue-ribbon carrot contest. No, this is a serious conspiracy with real-life roots here on Earth, in the people version of Zootopia. It has actually been discussed by both political pundits and tinfoil-hat-wearers.
3. The movie's themes include racism, sexism, xenophobia, violence, and using fear to rule. It's basically about Donald Trump's presidential campaign.
4. The movie is subversive because it uses animation aimed at kids to teach lessons that you usually don't find in animation aimed at kids. It not only rejects the idea that "you can be anything you want", it makes fun of it. It even shoots another Disney film, Frozen, right between the eyes.
5. There's one quick and sly salute to Breaking Bad. Yes, a we have a Disney film that makes a reference to meth.
6. I saw it in the theater, and the adults were laughing more than the kids. The DMV scene should win some kind of award.
7. There are many examples of modern micro-aggressions. For example, nobody is allowed to call Detective Hopps "cute" because that's offensive... unless it comes from other rabbits. Yet Hopps riles up Nick because she's surprised that foxes can be so "articulate". And Nick gets in trouble for wanting to feel a sheep's wool.
8. If you like animation, then that alone is a reason to see the movie. It's exquisitely rendered, and might be the best computer-animated film ever made so far.
9. This movie is so in tune with what society is going through today that it's almost creepy. It teaches the lesson that it's not true that you can be whatever you want; all you can do is try to make the world better, and hope other people try too. This is an animated showpiece that adults and teenagers should see. And yeah, I guess you can bring the little ones, too. But you'll probably have to explain it to them.
Zootopia is now in theaters worldwide. Take a look at the trailer below: