Since Disney’s acquisition of Pixar and the hiring of John Lassiter their animation department has gone through a bit of a resurgence. Everyone is aware of the phenomenon that is Frozen but around that films like Big Hero Six have shown an ability to move away from the classic Disney formula. To be added to that realm is Zootropolis (known as Zootopia in America) a film set in an animal utopia.
Which gives Disney so much to play with. The world of Zootropolis sees animals living in harmony with each other. Predators and prey are still distinct, but they have evolved past eating each other. However, as anyone with the slightest animal knowledge will tell you, animals are all quite different if in nothing else at the very least in size. This means that half of the joy of Zootropolis is feasting your eyes on this incredible city, with its various ways of dealing with everything from giraffes to rats. It is this attention to detail that sets Disney apart.
And into this world is thrown Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) the first rabbit to get a place in the Zootropolis Poice Department. There, through the usual hijinks, she ends up investigating the disappearance of a variety of predators from the city with the help of con-man – and fox – Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman). It is one hell of a voice cast with everyone from Idris Elba as the gruff Police Chief Bogo to Tommy Chong as Yax the naturist Yak.
Most importantly, though, it is brilliantly good fun. You will laugh more in the first ten minutes of this film that you will at 90% of comedy films. The script is fast paced and chock fill of cultural references (there’s even a little dig at Frozen in there) so that even when the plot does get a bit ramshackle, you are willing to forgive it, because you are just enjoying yourself.
Like most Disney films, though, there is also an important message here. The classic Disney fare of chasing your dreams is the obvious one, but there is another one in there too the idea of prejudice and stereotyping. Now this isn’t exactly a new idea but the way Zootropolis approaches it kind of is. Here it isn’t the little guy being picked on but the big guy too and it makes the point that on both sides of the fence there are problems. That it doesn’t matter whether you are big or small, judging someone is always wrong.
Zootropolis is just a pleasure. An antidote to the likes of Batman vs. Superman. If you are looking for something sharp and gritty, then of course, it is not for you. But whether you are five years old or thirty-six this is a film that you can sit back, relax and enjoy. You can’t say fairer than that.