The trailer for Disney’s latest animated effort Zootopia was instantly appealing. This was due partly to the inclusion of a fantastic slow grinning sloth, which had not just me, but my 3 and 6yos laughing uproariously. The added bonus is that unlike some trailers, which feature the only parts of the movie actually worth seeing, Zootopia soon proved that its promo was offering but a small glimpse of the film’s quality.
The city of Zootopia is a dynamic metropolis populated entirely by animals. Districts are tailored towards different ecosystems, there is icy Tundratown, the Rainforest District or the luxurious Plaza Sahara. Predator and prey live happily side by side, having evolved beyond their distant past when one was food for the other. Now they walk on their hind legs, wear clothes, work, ride on the subway and behave in a fairly anthropomorphic way. One species is missing in the bustling city though. Curious as to why there are no monkeys, I asked one of the directors, Byron Howard (Tangled, Bolt) He was kind enough to answer: “Primates would be thought of as smarter and a little too close to human. So we kept them out of this film. Maybe next time.” Hopefully this is a hint of a sequel. The film is also directed by Rich Moore (Wreck-It Ralph, The Simpsons) and co-directed by Jared Bush.
Ginnifer Goodwin is Judy Hops, a rabbit from a small town who has dreamed her whole life about being a cop, despite the fact that all the other rabbits in her extensive family are carrot farmers. This plucky and idealistic bunny actually makes it through the police academy. But most of the Zootopian police force are big buffalos, rhinos or tigers. Fortunately helped by the ‘Mammal Inclusion Initiative’ of Mayor Lionheart (J K Simmons), Judy becomes the first ever rabbit cop in Zootopia. Initially fobbed off by her Police Chief (Idris Elba, a brusque water buffalo) as a meter maid, a determined Judy ends up being given 48 hours to crack an ongoing case about the inexplicable disappearance of several of the city’s residents.
Nick Wilde, the wily con-artist fox played by Jason Bateman, is inveigled by Judy into helping solve the mystery. Animals are still missing and some of the city’s residents are going savage. Can predators still be trusted?
Nods to Chinatown, The Godfather and even Breaking Bad add an extra level of amusement for adults. Not only hilarious and entertaining, Zootopia also manages to offer a thoughtful lesson about prejudice and diversity. Anyone can become anything – if a rabbit can become a policeman in a city full of predators, the world is your oyster. For a feel good fun outing with the family, go and enjoy Zootopia.
Rating: PG Some scenes may scare very young children.