Progressive/Nerd/Parent Review: Zootopia (no spoilers)

Progressive/nerd/parent review (updated)

This is how I looked as I realized the movie was much better than the trailers suggested.


[Note: There is nothing in here that can reasonably be considered a spoiler.]

Bechdel-Wallace Score: 3/3 – There are a few scenes where named, female characters speak to each other about something other than male characters, but only barely. That said, the main character seemed to me a fairly progressive take on an animated female lead. 👍

Shukla Score: 2.5/3 – Technically the movie scored 3/3, but the one interaction between two named characters voiced by African-American actors just wasn’t enough to justify a perfect score.

Russo Score: 0/3 – Well, I so wish I could give the movie something. Judy Hopps (pictured above) has gay neighbors, but I know this because I am savvy not because they identified themselves as gay (and identification is the first part of the Russo test). Then again, they would have failed the other two tests anyway as they were just there as a sort of urban-decoration to the story and were otherwise superfluous. So basically it was as little LGBTQ representation as you could have without having none at all.

Kittehs: 🙀😺😺😺/5  – Right from the beginning I was surprised how much better this move was compared to the trailers, and I stayed engaged for the entire movie (as did my kid). Maybe I just saw the trailers too many times, but if I never see an animated sloth joke again it’ll be too soon. The actual movie was a progressive social (and personal) lesson about the rewards of, and obstacles to, empathy for others and respect for differences. The lesson is delivered via a fun, funny caper set in a place where animals (mostly) wear clothes and talk. It’s great. (And yes, the sloth scene does happen, but it is over quickly… …h… …a… …h!)

Low points: The has a few highlights, but otherwise stays very level, and so doesn’t have any real low points to speak of. The Godfather rat character was the only thing to nearly qualify as a low point, but it wasn’t so bad. Oh wait! I forgot about Gazelle, that pop star. That shit was awful (but also very limited). Update: A reader emailed TLP with a snarky, and spot on, critique of Judy Hopps’ behavior as a cop in the movie. The reader was emphatic that she liked the movie a lot, but also thinks this issue needs to be considered another low point:

To prove her value her first day on the job, she hands out parking tickets like it’s 2014 Ferguson. And she TAKES PRIDE in this. Way to make the world a better place, one parking ticket at a time!

During her first investigation, she fabricates probable cause to conduct an illegal search, and later threatens the life of a witness she is interrogating. I mean, maybe I wasn’t the target audience for this film, but Jesus Christ! These are egregious violations of constitutional rights, and they’re just plain WRONG.

And while she experiences the wrath of a few residents upset over the parking tickets, there are never any repercussions for her gross constitutional violations, no discussion that maybe that isn’t the best way to approach police work, nothing. NOTHING. So yes kids, if you are in a position of authority, the ends totally justify the means.

Point taken!

Highlights: Idris Elba’s voice, omg. The other highlights are difficult not to discuss without spoilers, but here goes: The movie deals a lot with the fears people have about each other based on differences, the assumptions we make about each other based on those fears, and how social roles, friendships, and personal livelihoods can be significantly determined by those prejudices and assumptions. The movie also spends some time showing how even progressive, fair minded people have regressive, small minded moments and that a lot of damage can be done to relationships very quickly. Best of all, the lesson isn’t “we’re all really the same,” which is bullshit, but instead “we are all in this together and we need each other,” which is 100% true. In the real world our differences are real, but our sense separation is an illusion. This movie has several scenes that get into this humorously and/or dramatically. Good stuff.

Dad edits: Nothing at all. There is a wide range of emotional content – scary parts, sad parts, happy parts, etc – but nothing at all problematic for my 4 year old. Hell, I would have gladly watched this with him when he was 2. It’s pretty great. There are no firearms in the movie and very little violence, which is also very mild. Take all the kids. (Update: Okay I am also going to talk to the kid about proper vs. improper use of authority. Thank you, reader!)

Tell TLP what you thought of the movie! Send an email, comment on Facebook, or tweet on Twitter. There is also Tumblr and the comment field below, if you’re into that kind of thing. 

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