We don't get to the movies very often, but when "Zootopia" hit theaters last week, my girls couldn't wait to cash in their Royal Theater gift certificates that they got for Christmas to see the newest animated Disney movie.
I don't normally do movie reviews because I don't pay enough attention to assess things like cinematography and soundtrack and direction and lighting and all of that stuff.
But "Zootopia" bills itself as a family movie, and we happened to see it during its opening weekend, so I thought parents might be interested to know whether or not it's appropriate for OUR KIDS.
(Don't worry, no spoilers here.)
The basic premise of "Zootopia" is that animals of all types have evolved to live together in peace, despite their status as either "predators" or "prey." Zootopia is the main city of their area, and there are surrounding communities, too.
A young female bunny fulfills her childhood dreams and becomes the first bunny police officer in Zootopia, and early in her rookie year, she runs into a fox con artist.
Meanwhile, some animal citizens are mysteriously disappearing from Zootopia. The bunny and the fox team up to figure out where the citizens are going, what's happening to them, and who's responsible.
The movie is rated PG and has a run time of 108 minutes.
My daughters, who are 8 and 9 years old, loved "Zootopia," and so did I.
There are a lot of humorous characters throughout the film, a lot of sight gags and, as any good animated movie provides, a handful of jokes that fly right over the kids' heads and tickle the funny bones of parents.
There is a character that is voiced by Shakira who is a pop star in the movie, which my girls loved. They also like Shakira's music in the movie. (I guess I am talking about the soundtrack! I could be a professional movie reviewer!)
They also loved a character named Flash. I'll just leave it at that.
There are several good life messages that are emphasized in "Zootopia," such as pursuing one's dreams, treating everyone equally, the importance of friendship, the benefits of doing the right thing, and the consequences of the hysteria of racism (veiled as "predators" vs. "prey").
The plot of the movie moved along pretty well, only dragging for a few minutes in the middle. I found myself getting a little distracted, and I sensed that my daughters and the other kids in the Royal Theater were getting a bit restless, too. But for the most part, things moved right along.
I don't recall any swearing, and the visible violence was contained to a couple of non-gory scratches. There was a scene or two of implied, off-screen violence, but nothing that viewers witnessed.
There was a flashback scene or two of some childhood bullying involving one of the main characters, but the message is clearly conveyed that bullying is an unacceptable act in society.
Shakira's character is a curvaceous gazelle that dresses like a pop star and dances like a pop star, but there's nothing inappropriately sexual about it. There's also a scene at a nudist resort, but the "nude" animals are simply drawn in normal Disney fashion without clothes on. You don't see anything inappropriate at all. The characters in the movie are uncomfortable around the "nudity," but film viewers aren't. It's actually a pretty humorous scene.
There is no love interest between the two main characters -- purely a friendship that develops along the way.
There are a couple of jokes about rabbits multiplying, but that's about as "sexual" as any of the dialogue gets.
Some of the action scenes might frighten really young children, but my kids weren't bothered by them (although I've heard some parents say that their youngsters got scared).
A few characters throughout the movie are transformed into their traditional predatory roles in the animal kingdom and are drawn similarly to most villainous animal roles in other Disney movies throughout the years -- glowing eyes, snarling teeth, etc.
There is a tense scene with a startling part to it that made everyone -- parents and kids alike -- jump in their seats, but there's no violence associated with the scene. It's tantamount to someone jumping out from around a corner and yelling "BOO!"
Near the end of the movie, the two main characters are involved in a scene that appears to have one violent result, but is quickly revealed to have actually had a different, non-violent result. (I'm trying not to spoil things here!) However, for a moment, the scene can probably scare really young children. My daughters weren't bothered by it, but I could see where youngsters might be.
Overall, it was a very enjoyable movie, and I think if your kids are around kindergarten age or so, on up, they should be fine with it. Anything younger than that, and you'll just have to make a decision based on what you know about your kids.
(***EDIT*** I'm hearing more and more parents saying that their 5- and 6-year-olds were scared during the movie, and some didn't want to see the rest of it. So that minimum age threshold might need to be adjusted a little higher for some kids.)
In case you're interested, the Royal Theater in Danville is showing "Zootopia" again this weekend: Friday night (March 11) at 7 p.m., Saturday (March 12) at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m., and Sunday (March 13) at 4 p.m.
Kids can get in to the Royal and get a kids' snack pack -- popcorn, a bag of candy and a small fountain drink -- for a grand total of $9. I know this because each of my kids had $9 gift certificates that paid their entire way to the movie. Parents' tickets are very reasonable, too. It's a tiny, tiny fraction of what you'll pay at most theaters these days.
I think "Zootopia" is also playing in other theaters around Hendricks County and Indianapolis, and I believe there's a 3D version of it, too (which may intensify the scary scenes for kids).
I hope that helps!
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