A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Kids learn about the difference between predator and prey animals and stereotypes about certain animals (e.g., that bunnies are dumb and foxes, wily). Kids also learn importance of seeing beyond the superficial to what an individual is really like.
Follow your dreams; anyone can do/be anything if they work hard enough and believe in themselves. Individuals from different (even traditionally opposed) backgrounds can form powerful alliances if they look beyond those differences. Clearly urges viewers to look beyond stereotypes and assumptions to the individuals behind them, but when it tries to tackle racism using an animal metaphor, it sends conflicting messages (see Diverse Representations for more). Promotes empathy, courage, perseverance, and teamwork.
Positive Role Models
Judy is clever and determined, as well as an optimistic dreamer. At first her naivete causes harm to others, but through humility and perseverance, she becomes more well-rounded. Nick starts out as an unrepentant scam artist, but his friendship with Judy shows him that he can be more than the stereotypically shifty fox, just as Judy decided to be more than a carrot-growing bunny. Characters in positions of power turn out to be less than trustworthy, but they face consequences and learn lessons.
Zootopia means well, and some representations, such as having Judy as a determined female lead or Shakira voicing the flawless diva Gazelle, generally succeed. Voice actors of color in supporting roles include Idris Elba, Octavia Spencer, and Tommy Chong. But when the film tries to tackle racism using an animal metaphor, it sends conflicting messages: It repeatedly says stereotypes are bad but then proceeds to show predators who live up to their stereotypes of being vicious -- a trait that's "based on biology," as Judy says. The movie then contorts itself trying to show how Judy was wrong, but reinforces ethnic stereotypes at the same time: An Indian elephant is a yoga instructor, Italian mice are mobsters, etc. References to Blackness are mishandled. In one scene, Nick digs his hand into a sheep's Afro-like hair as Judy says, "You can't just touch a sheep's wool." The invasive act feels uncomfortable to watch because it's modeled by a main character and treated as a joke by the script. And one of the film's most frightening characters is a black jaguar that's "gone savage" -- he's large, muscled, violent. Fatphobic portrayal of Officer Clawhauser, who's always snacking and drinking soda. Commentary on policing and sexism, as Judy strives to be the best police officer she can be in a male-dominated workplace, only further cements that Zootopia bites off more than it (and its nearly all-White filmmakers and voice actors) could chew.
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Violence & Scariness
Several scenes of danger, peril, and tension. Predators "go savage" and try to attack other animals, including an intense chase scene involving the main characters and an out-of-control jaguar. Jump-scare moment when a "wild" animal being held captive leaps angrily in his cell, scaring Nick and Judy. Another upsetting scene when it seems a friend has turned on someone he cares about. Creepy moments in dark places (car lot, buildings) as characters investigate a missing mammal case. Chases and fighting (including on a moving train). Explosion/crash. Mobster has Nick and Judy kidnapped and threatens to "ice" them (drown them in frozen water), but he doesn't go through with it. Antagonists with dart guns get ready to shoot Nick and Judy. A young fox bullies a young bunny, shoving her and clawing her across the cheek; in another sad scene, a young fox is bullied by those he thought were friends. Some of the large animals/predators are intimidating.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Gazelle the singer wears glittery, "sexy" clothes; she and her tiger dancers dance somewhat suggestively. A "naturalist" club is a place for animals who are "nudists" to commune together without clothes (Judy is shocked, but human viewers won't be, as that's how we see animals all the time).
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Fairly frequent use of insults/rude words like "dumb," "jerk," "crazy," "loser," "stupid," "moron," "butt," "shut up," "oh my God," etc.
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Products & Purchases
Real-world brand names get a Zootopia spin (like Zuber instead of Uber or ZNN instead of CNN). Many offline product tie-ins, from toys to books, games, and more.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Zootopia is a clever, fast-paced animated Disney film set in a world of walking, talking, clothed animals that live peacefully together, having supposedly evolved past nature's rules of predator versus prey. The story about eager young cop Judy Hopps' (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin) investigation involves chase scenes (one is prolonged and particularly intense) and jump-scare predator attacks, as well as an explosive crash, sneaking around in dark rooms, allusions to mob activity, kidnapping, threatened torture (a crime boss wants to "ice" key characters -- i.e., throw them in frozen water to drown), and bullying. No one is seriously hurt, but there are times when it seems that they have been or will be. Expect regular use of insult language like "stupid," "jerk," "dumb," "butt," etc., humor related to "naturalist" animals who choose not to wear clothes, and some sexy, sparkly ensembles worn by pop star Gazelle (Shakira). There are a lot of jokes for adults that will go way over kids' heads (references to The Godfather, the DMV, and Breaking Bad, for instance), and the film's attempts to reference real-world prejudice and racism falter. But there's plenty for younger audiences to laugh at, and it all comes wrapped in positive (if imperfect) messages about courage, empathy, tolerance, and teamwork. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Clever and heartwarming, this animated adventure is equal parts buddy-cop comedy, fish-out-of-water tale, and whodunit mystery. With its vibrant visuals and simple but evocative storyline, Zootopia is a talking-animal pic worth watching with the whole family. Judy and Nick's repartee is reminiscent of classic screwball comedies, and the plot's twists are a throwback to noir films in which the culprit is never who you think. Although the trailer gives away one of the movie's funniest scenes -- when Judy and Nick go into a DMV run entirely by sloths moving slower than molasses -- there are plenty more laughs and memorable bits to make both kids and grown-ups laugh.
And the voice casting is spot on: Goodwin is wonderful as the constantly energetic, optimistic Judy -- who may have gotten into the police academy thanks to the mayor's "mammal inclusion program" but who goes on to prove that even a cute bunny has what it takes to take down bad guys -- while Bateman has the ideal cynical voice to portray the hilariously jaded Nick, who's a fast-talking charmer with a knack for knowing everything he can about Zootopia's movers and shakers. Elba's robust baritone is perfectly paired with the brusque water buffalo police chief. Other supporting characters include veteran voice actor Maurice LaMarche doing an excellent Marlon Brando impression to play tuxedoed crime boss Mr. Big, and Tommy Chong as a "naturalist" life coach yak. And then there's Shakira's pop star Gazelle, who sings a catchy theme song that captures the spirit of the movie: "Try Everything." In other words, be who you want to be, not who others expect you to be.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.