ZOOTOPIA: Light of the World | FCC 105

Encouraging and healing one another with gracious words and being the light of the world and the salt of the earth are just some of the Christian themes we found in Disney’s latest summer hit ZOOTOPIA. Join us as we discuss these and so much more on this episode of the Finding Christ in Cinema podcast.

For your convenience you will find each podcast segment at the time referenced below:

  • 00:00:00 – Introduction and Previous Episode Recap
  • 00:04:27 – Movie Discussion
  • 00:16:50 – Christian Themes in ZOOTOPIA
  • 01:04:26 – Listener Challenge and Feedback
  • 01:12:11 – Well-mannered Frivolity
  • 01:19:52 – Lightning Round 
  • 01:22:17 – Upcoming

Gracious Words for Nick the Fox

The caliber of our initial perception of Nicholas P. Wilde isn’t that high. We see him work his “pawpsicle” hustle quite efficiently, much to Officer Judy Hopps’ chagrin. He even goes as far as to try to discourage Judy from pursuing her lifelong dream of being a cop. And even when Judy comes to him for help on a missing person (er…animal) case, he doesn’t budge until Judy threatens to pin him on tax evasion.

At first, Nick begrudgingly tags along, but then he becomes so entwined in helping Judy with the case that he – a criminal – stands up to the police chief to defend Judy from the chief’s unfair temperament. It’s a noble and endearing scene for Nick – one that we as the audience do not see coming.

Because right after that scene, we get a glimpse into the childhood that shaped Nick’s mindset in the present. Via flashback overlayed with Nick’s own narration, we see an eager and excited young Nick getting ready to join the Junior Ranger Scouts. He meets with the other Scouts for the initiation ceremony which quickly turns into something more akin to a terrifying hazing ritual. Those other Scouts – who have all taken the oath to be “brave, loyal, helpful, and trustworthy” – wrestle and hold Nick to the ground while one of them constricts Nick into a muzzle. Because how could a fox be trusted, let alone trustworthy?

Nick runs away from the Scouts and finds himself crying on the steps. From that day on, Nick reasoned within himself that if the world was only going to see a fox as shifty and untrustworthy, then there was no point in trying to be anything else. Such is Nick’s brokenness, though he would be careful to not let you see it.

This image from ZOOTOPIA shows Nick the Fox.

Thankfully, as God has told us and as Jesus has shown us, no one is too broken that they can’t be fixed, and no one is so lost that they can’t be saved. Because while it took a lot for Nick to expose his lifelong burden, it took a lot more to share it with someone he barely knew. But Nick must’ve seen something in Judy that made him feel at ease. The conditions of the relationship had to be just right for Judy to plant the seed with her gracious words when she did. Most importantly, I (Brenden) personally think she had his trust – a key element for any relationship if any discipleship is to happen.

From there, she was able to tell him that he mattered and that he was worth so much more than what those other Scouts and the rest of the world had put him down for. Her gracious words heal Nick’s brokenness and turn him toward his ultimate redemption: being adopted into a family that loves him. It’s the clearest image of true evangelism I think I’ve ever seen in an animated film.

The Light of the World and the Salt of Zootopia

All of this salvation, though, came from Officer Judy Hopps herself because she is the one that had the dream of becoming a cop in the first place. For all the fans of Micah 6:8, it could be said that all Judy wants to do is “act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.” As farfetched and juvenile as it sounds, Judy actually wants to make the world a better place. She isn’t satisfied with a cottage below in Bunnyburrow; she seeks the higher and the deeper and the richer things in life. Not out of selfish ambition, either, but out of a genuine need to serve and protect.

Unfortunately, she doesn’t get much help from her friends and family at first. Her parents urge her to “settle” into becoming a carrot farmer, and the police chief gives her the thankless job of meter maid; the world just seems to be against her…almost like it’s trying to hide her light under a bushel. These “friends and family” turn out to be nothing but detrimental to Judy’s goodwill toward her fellow animals. How scary is it, then, when some of our own “friends and family” within the Church are equally detrimental? How discouraging is that? Thankfully, not so much so as to stop her.

This image from ZOOTOPIA shows Judy Hopps.

As with all cases like Judy’s, however, she goes through what some call a “dark night of the soul” – a period of self-doubt and regression. She sees that one of the side-effects of all her light-shining is that more people – namely predators, and namely her adopted brother Nick – are being even more shunned than what they were in the first place. She didn’t want that to happen, but as the story later reveals, she wasn’t the one in control, either. In her dark night, she returns home to be a carrot farmer.

But then Judy sees the light she herself once had beaming from a new place: her parents. Stu and Bonnie Hopps now do business with Gideon Grey, Judy’s childhood nemesis. Stu and Bonnie tell Judy that this new onset only happened because Judy lovingly and patiently opened their eyes to Gideon. That is exactly what Jesus Himself did for the Jews, and it is exactly we are called to do for the rest of the world.

Key Texts

Proverbs 16:24 NIV

Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

Galatians 6:9 NLT

So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.

Finding Christ In Cinema is the show where we discover Christian themes in movies past and present. Join us and together we’ll dig deeper into the silver-screen classics of yesteryear as well as the box-office hits of today. Brought to you by the Great Commission Transmission Network. View the complete show notes – including links to articles discussed – by clicking here.

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About Brenden Taylor

Brenden is an educational assistant and tutor by day and a theatre practitioner by night. He has his M.A. in Theatre Arts and is always looking for a good way to use stories to soften peoples' hearts. Find him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @LeviTheBeliever.
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