If you’re reading this right now, it’s probably because you’re wanting to know if you should take your kids to see Zootopia.
Let me rephrase that. You’re wanting to know if YOU should take your kids to see Zootopia. Because chances are pretty high that your kids already want to see it. The marketing machine that is Disney makes sure of that. But what your kids want to see isn’t always a movie that your grown-up self wants to see.
If you’ve been to the movies with your kids in the past few months, you’ve probably seen a ton of previews for kid movies coming out this year. I usually sit next to my 9 year old son and at the end of each preview we quickly give each other a thumbs up or thumbs down indicating if we’re excited to go see the new movie. And when the preview for Zootopia came on, we were mixed. He was thumbs up and I was thumbs down.
Take a look.
The first time you see the clip, it’s amusing. As adults, we get it. Sloths work at the animal equivalent of the DMV because THEY ARE THE SLOWEST CREATURES ON THE PLANET!
But the joke goes on too long and the scene goes on too long and I found myself groaning every time this preview came on. They can’t all be winners, right? That’s certainly what I said after watching Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur.
When I was invited to preview Zootopia before the release date, I was hesitant but left it up to Evan, my son. He was all in and so I thought I’d buck up and watch it too.
Turns out that false assumptions can make for a great movie. So here are the adult and kid perspectives on this surprisingly entertaining movie.
What Adults Will Like About Zootopia
We find ourselves watching the story of animals – predator and prey – who all live in harmony. They evolved away from their predatory instincts and now live in the country doing things like baking cakes and growing carrots or live in specific ecosystems clustered around large cities like Zootopia.
Judy Hopps is the small town bunny who wants to go to Zootopia, become the world’s first rabbit cop, and “make the world a better place.” While there, she meets up with and ends up partnering with Nick Wilde, a good fox gone wrong. An unusual friendship ensues with many lessons to be learned, yada, yada, yada.
But the thing is, there’s actually a good story there. Like, you could replace the animals with people and it becomes a real movie that grown-ups would really see. There’s a protagonist, antagonist, plot twist. All in all, it was very enjoyable and the sloth scene, while still slightly annoying, was just one tiny part of a larger picture. A picture that I surprisingly enjoyed.
What Kids Will Like About Zootopia
First of all, there are animals. And while there are plenty of big, potentially scary animals like lions, panthers, and rhinos, everyone gets along (mostly) in this new city. The kids will love the gross characterizations of the animals: sly fox is a con artist, a weasel is a thief, a lion is the mayor, and a lamb is the meek assistant mayor. My favorite is the crime boss, Mr. Big, played by a teeny tiny arctic shrew.
There’s action and comedy (that both kids and adults can laugh at) and a storyline compelling enough to keeps parents interested but not so complex that kids can’t understand the basic gist of it.
And while I don’t expect movies to do anything but entertain kids, this movie also teaches some lessons along the way. Some of them are obvious (“You can be anything you want to be!”) while others are more subtle with thinly veiled references to modern cultural problems (prejudice against animals simply because of their size or their species).
Overall, it was a complete win for us. So much so that I recommended it for a movie outing my son is attending this weekend. I knew he wouldn’t mind seeing it again. In fact, neither would I.
I guess I should have relied upon the fact that this movie comes from the same studio that produced Big Hero 6, one of my all-time favorite movies! And from now on, I won’t judge a movie by its trailer.