A fun and clever little family flick.
In a city of anthropomorphic animals, a rookie bunny cop (Ginnifer Goodwin – Once Upon A Time) and a cynical con artist fox (Jason Bateman – Arrested Development) must work together to uncover a conspiracy.
From the people that brought you Wreck It Ralph and . . . the better seasons of The Simpsons. A star studded and wonderfully animated little affair that cleverly tackles racism and delivers a nice message that anyone can be anything. Awww . . . Yuck.
It was a clever concept how the writers made up this metropolis of mad animals. The animation and detail on the numerous regions within Zootopia was breathtaking to look at. Once we accepted the crazy spiel that animals have evolved and live in peace (NOT to mention dress up in clothes too), the film got down to business.
We followed the young and excitable Judy Hopps (voiced perfectly by Goodwin) as she defied every obstacle and perception to become the first bunny cop of Zootopia. Tackling bullies and stereotypes to achieve her dream. Unaware that her biggest challenge was yet to come.
Breaking free from the overanxious paws of her panic-stricken parents in Bunnyburrow to help change the world and make a difference. It wasn’t long before our heroine’s rose-tinted outlook was crushed by her insensitive boss, the miserable Chief Bogo (Idris Elba) refusing to take her seriously and assigning her parking duty as a meter maid.
The pace did lag in parts and the 108 minute length might have the adults fidgeting, let alone the little ‘uns. However, things picked up once Hopps crossed paths with the sly hustling fox Nick Wylde. I couldn’t think of anybody better than Bateman to take on the role.
It was fun enough watching the fractious relationship between slick Nick and the determined Judy blossom into the inevitable as they unwittingly team up to solve a missing animal case.
The case delivered enough laughs and crazy chases to keep the little ‘uns (and the bigger kids. Yeah, I’m talking to you) entertained. One of the best gags involved a number plate search at the DMV (Department of Mammal Vehicles). With Judy pressed for time, it didn’t help knowing that the whole place was . . . run . . . by . . . a . . . load . . . of . . . sloths. Brilliant.
The case wasn’t too bad with the missing creatures in question turning into feral predators without explanation. BUT as always its the journey NOT the destination.
“Haven’t you got a fox ice cream store back in your own district” – I loved how Byron Howard, Rich Moore and Jared Bush subtly tackled racism within the piece; especially with Nick’s treatment. Never being trusted because of his “people”.
It was perfectly balanced against the fun chases and silly humour as Judy must address some of her own fears and assumptions, branding predators as a “minority” that should be monitored and carrying fox repellent despite telling Nick everyone should be treated the same.
I couldn’t believe the stars that popped up in this; J.K. Simmons, Bonnie Hunt, Octavia Spencer, Alan Tudyk. Even Shakira had a cameo as political activist and media personality Gazelle.
Tommy Chong was hilarious as bohemian hippie Yax. But it was two of the lesser known actors that stole the show for me; Nate Torrence’s (She’s Out of My League) overenthusiastic Clawhauser and Jenny Slate’s (The Secret Life of Pets) bumbling Mayor’s aide Bellwether.
The metatextual references were brilliant; there was a fantastic Breaking Bad reference involving some rams dealing some illegal herbal substances and a Godfather-esque encounter with a Mafioso rodent called Mr. Big that was ripe for the pickings with gags and little nuances.
Disney have worked their magic to deliver another fun family movie but one that will rank with the greats? Not so much.
The pace was a little long and the middle act did stumble with the case solving getting repetitive and predictable. But it was still fun enough and left a nice message to never judge a book by its cover.