Zootropolis is a fantastic and relevant film which I can’t recommend highly enough – it’s just a shame it’ll probably get caught in the animation ghetto and not receive the praise it fully deserves.
The film is set in a world where anthropomorphic animals rule the world and tells the story of Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin), Zootropolis’ first bunny cop, who’s desperate to prove to the world that she’s just as capable an officer as the other ‘bigger animals’ by solving the case of the missing mammals.
Dragged along for the ride is Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman), a quick witted con-fox who Judy blackmails into helping.
Can Judy find the missing animals or is it true what everyone says, that she’s just a ‘dumb little bunny’? Also voicing characters are Idris Elba, J.K. Simmons, Tommy Chong, Octavia Spencer, Jenny Slate, and Shakira – seriously, everyone’s in this.
There’s an awful lot to love in Zootropolis, and Disney have knocked it out of the park with another highly polished and, more importantly, funny film with a lot for both kids and adults to enjoy.
Nick and Judy are wonderfully well-rounded characters, with real personalities and their own separate issues which perfectly explains why the pair are the way they are, and why they inevitably bond over their shared experiences of discrimination.
Honestly, they put far more effort into explaining the background of a cartoon fox and rabbit’s relationship than Michael Bay ever put into telling us what the fuck was going on in a Transformers movie.
The world of Zootropolis is a breathtaking fully thought out place, and just watching people walk around the city would be an entertaining movie in and of itself.
We see how mice and giraffes can both live in the same urban space and, surprisingly, it actually makes an awful lot of sense. Forget the people who wanted to visit Pandora back in 2009, I’d rather spend my time exploring this incredible city.
Despite the rather heavy themes of the film (classism, racism, stereotyping), the film is side-splittingly funny and manages to deliver laugh after laugh. The stand out scene being the ‘nudist animal camp’ that I really can’t do justice with mere words – needless to say it’s bizarre, hilarious and would leave Mickey Mouse blushing.
However, what I loved most about the film was its message, which worked on a number of levels. I thought it was beautiful, thought provoking and exceptionally relevant considering the times we live in.
On the surface, the prey versus predator debate is quite obviously an allegory for racism and the discrimination that certain groups suffer because of lazy stereotyping, and how the world unfairly labels people.
But, despite this, the film promises that you can always rise above the labels and prove to the world that ‘you define you’, not the other way round. Most importantly, it never becomes maudlin, remembering that as a kid’s movie it has a duty to stay funny throughout.
However, there are also references to the class system and how it can seem unfair at times that certain people achieve more simply because of the circumstances of their birth or race, with a ten per cent elite ruling over the lower classes.
Best of all is the message that people change, bullies grow up and racists realise their mistakes. My favourite thing about this was the moral complexity of the message – the film doesn’t coat everything in sugar and promise the world is going to be fine. You have to work at it, and the movie even shows that sometimes good people can go bad.
Honestly, if someone made this film in live action with humans instead of animals it’d be considered a masterpiece of the Noir genre but, unfortunately, I worry that because it’s a cartoon it won’t get the praise it deserves.
If you see anything this year, go and see this film.