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Film Review: Zootropolis

This animated film really does not disappoint; if you are looking for a fun family film, Disney’s latest offering ticks all the right boxes. Directed by Byron Howard (Tangled) and Rich Moore (Wreck-It-Ralph), the plot is fast-paced, with witty dialogue, comic timing, state-of-the-art CGI, and a Shakira soundtrack to boot.


Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin), a cute bunny from Bunnyburrow, announces in her school play that she wants to be a police officer when she grows up. The audience scoffs, especially Gideon Grey, the resident school bully, who happens to be a fox. The resistance fuels her “coming-of-age” determination as she is the first bunny to graduate from the Police Academy. Her parting gift from her parents is “fox repellent” as she heads off to the big smoke, Zootropolis, where wild predators have had their beastly side tamed and live in harmony alongside their traditional prey - on the surface at least.


Seemingly you can’t take the cute bunny out of Bunnyburrow, as, despite her well-earned police badge, her sexist Water-Buffalo Police Chief (voiced by Idris Elba) sticks her on parking meter duty. Determined to prove her rookie bunny’s worth, she teams up with an unlikely sidekick: Nick Wilde, a streetwise, sly fox (Jason Bateman). Together they become a detective dream-team; with her athletic prowess and his quick wit, they expertly hustle the criminals they are pursuing.


Children will be enthralled by the comedy antics of the donut-eating, music-loving Cheetah, the Lady Gaga/Shakira-inspired Gazelle, and the slow motion sloths who take a cinematic aeon to stamp forms in the Department of Mammal Vehicles.


Adults conversely will appreciate the homage to The Godfather with the hilarious Vito Corleone- inspired scenes, the nod to film noir with twilight underworld criminality in Tundratown, and the Mayor of Zootropolis’s obsession with his Mammal Inclusion Initiative.


We learn that Judy is no “dumb, cute bunny” but a rookie rabbit that needs fast-tracking through the police ranks, and there is more to Nick than being sly as he possesses a fierce forensic approach to policing. There are compelling examinations of contemporary bigotry, historical prejudice, sexism, and the transformative powers of tolerance. The Zootropolis kingdom is forced to look at its own world order and decide if the predators can truly be tamed. It is a credit to the directors that the humorous elements of the film are fully exploited, alongside the more serious moral underpinnings.


Overall, this film will delight a whole cross-generational audience, and the sloths could have their own popular spin-off series, like the Penguins from Madagascar.


Written by Liz Dickinson

 

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