February 2017 – Zootopia

Congratulations to the cast and crew of Zootopia for winning the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film 2016!

Before I was a cinema therapist, I was a cinema parent. That is I used the children’s movies my daughters watched to talk to them. I could share my thoughts on life’s lessons. It also helped me understand their concerns and personality inclinations. Try asking a child what they like about their favorite character or part of a movie and you may well get a glimpse into how they see the world.

In Zootopia, there are several “lesson” opportunities. A central focus of the movie is bullying. Characters are bullied and must choose how to respond. Although they struggle, some do succeed in overcoming, thereby creating a their own happy ending.

Zootopia also takes on the challenges of tolerance in a diverse society. This more complex theme may not be as understandable for younger children but may be a way for adults and older siblings to engage in some dialog. I was struck by the treatment of the subject here. The issues were not all resolved and the main character, Officer Hopps, acknowledges “life is a bit more complicated than a slogan on a bumper sticker.” Her bravery is in facing that truth and persevering. And that is what makes her a hero of cinema therapy!

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