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‘Zootopia’ and Putting Meaning Into Kids’ Movies

Walt Disney Studios


‘Zootopia’ and Putting Meaning Into Kids’ Movies

Zootopia’s ability to effectively deliver an important message sets it apart from other animated films.

“Zootopia” is one of Walt Disney Animation‘s most beloved recent movies, receiving universal praise and winning Best Animated Picture at the 2017 Oscars. In addition to being a fun, well-made action-comedy, “Zootopia” stands apart from many of its contemporaries in how it delivers a message to its audience really effectively.

At its core, “Zootopia” tackles a lot of very mature themes. As this video from The Take points out, the film tackles issues of race, gender, and corruption, all of which are pretty daunting tasks to deliver in a children’s movie. “Zootopia” is able to take these issues, and present them in a way that children will be able to comprehend and empathize with, while not sacrificing the film’s enjoyability.

Like all Disney/Pixar movies, “Zootopia” certainly has its “kid’s movie” moments – namely in a lot of its physical humor that’s a staple of children’s movies. However, “Zootopia’s” unique setting makes it pretty easy to present, for example, racism to the audience.

As the video lays out, the movie can draw clear parallels to this issue, and show kids why treating each other differently for things out of control is a bad thing. Even if the movie never explicitly mentions these social issues, it presents these issues well enough to empower the audience to see the clear connections to real-world issues.

Zootopia’s message may not be particularly nuanced or deep, but that’s not a bad thing. After all, this movie is made for kids. Instead of getting caught up with an obligation to deeply explain major societal issues, “Zootopia” chose to use a really good movie to present children a simple yet incredibly effective message that discriminating against one another is bad. “Zootopia” does a great job of breaking the mold that kid’s movies need to be simple and dumbed down, and delivers a really great film alongside an admirable message.

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