Zootropolis is a city of anthropomorphic animals, and it’s where the idealistic bunny Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) hopes to begin her vocation as an officer of the law. Though her diminutive figure provokes Chief Bogo (Idris Elba) to give her the task of being on parking duties, and while frustrated to be shunned away from more important crimes, she inadvertently stumbles across the most corrupt case in the city, striving to discover why predator animals are returning to their savage, biological instincts. Requiring the help of the conniving fox Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) – who she has managed to blackmail into helping her – the pair attempt to solve a problem that ensures both predators and prey can live together in harmony, while needing to figure out if the traditional adversaries of a rabbit and a fox can be compatible friends, first.
Directors Byron Howard and Rich Moore have crafted this environment in a meticulous fashion, with a striking attention to detail, painting a comprehensive picture of this universe we’re inhabiting. You can spend large periods of time simply looking over the shoulder of the protagonists, at the subtle, persistent details that relate this world to our own. Working as a pertinent study on contemporary society, first and foremost this endeavour is wickedly funny, with a handful of sequences that will have you laughing more than most of the comedies released this year will manage. The sloths scene in particular is a highlight. The humour is complimented well with an engaging, fulfilling narrative too – also working by way of a whodunnit, playing up to the tropes of the archetypal detective drama.
It’s incredibly easy to immerse yourself in this tale given how many correlations there are between this kingdom and our own. Implemented without feeling preachy, this is a remarkably relevant piece – studying a mayoral campaign based around fear, using the minority (in this case, predators) as the scapegoat, exploring themes of ignorance and prejudice. This is indicative of a feature that is able to invigorate and inspire adult audiences, as well as illuminating the imaginations of the younger members of the audience. There’s even a Breaking Bad reference. In Disney!
There remains so much for kids to enjoy, without having to dumb down. That said, it can somewhat patronising within the overriding, prevalent message; that of being nice to all, and accepting people, not pre-judging based on stereotypes. But then again, given the current climate, it’s a message that should be made palpable and clear, as it’s a relevant ideal and having it hammered home to the next generation is by no means a bad thing. In fact, it may even teach a few adults a thing or two.