Oh God I can’t believe I used that as a headline, but in any case Zootopia is finally out and, after hyping myself up about it from trailers, the furry fan art all over tumblr, and the interesting plot, I was pretty excited to see this film. To be honest the only thing that irked me going into this film was that it was called Zootropolis in the UK and while it’s not a bad name it just doesn’t sound as good as Zootopia. Still, with that minor irritant, I went in quite positive for Disney’s latest endevour.
After being told by pretty much everyone that she can’t become a police officer, Judie Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) defies everyone’s expectations and, after leaving her home of Bunnyburrow, arrives at Zootopia/Zootropolis (where prey and predator live together in peace) to become the ZPD’s first prey officer and is immediately put on meter maid duty by her dismissive boss Chief Bogo (Idris Elba). While attempting to prove herself a competent officer and, after bumping into the sly Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) and a chastising by Bogo after chasing a robber instead of fulfilling her meter maid duties, Bogo fires her, but the intervention of Mrs Otterson whose husband is missing, along with 13 other predators, begging for police assistance. Hopps offers and, caught between a rock and a hard place Bogo gives Hopps forty eight hours to solve the case or face forced resignation. With Wilde’s “co-operation”, they must track down Mr Otterson’s captors and unveil the secrets that Zootopia-oplis-land holds.
After Big Hero 6 I really wanted a film that I felt welcome in, not something I felt was specifically made with children in mind and allowed me a few moments here and there to sit back and admire the film’s intelligence and, for the most part, Zoolandia pulls it off. I’m sure you’ve all heard by now but Zoocity handles delicate themes such as racism, like only bunnies can call each other cute, very well but it’s the film’s handling of multiculturalism that really stands out.
In a time where certain douchetastic people are calling for people to be sent home to “where they come from”, build up walls to keep others out, and all out hatred derived from ignorance of others seems to building across the globe, Zoopidian’s message of unity despite differences is a fantastic message that needs to be heard by people young and old.
The voice cast is also chockablock with famous talent, such as J. K. Simmons as Mayor Leondore Lionheart, Maurice LaMarche as Mr Big, the ever present in Disney’s Neo-Renaissance Alan Tudyk as Duke Weasleton (seriously google him, he’s been in everything since Wreck-It Ralph) and even Shakira provides good vocals as Gazelle.
But the highest props have to go to Jason Bateman and Ginnifer Goodwin who perfectly embody their characters and have great chemistry together that keeps you along for ride and wishing to see more of them (I’d watch a TV series of them or something). But also big props have to go to Idris Elba who plays the hardheaded boss to a tee and Nate Torrence who is almost a scene stealer in his own right as the obese cheetah Officer Benjamin Clawhauser. He’s so sweet, and not just because of his stereotypical love of doughnuts, but for what little screen time he had, you enjoyed ever morsel of it.
Where the film does fall a bit though in it’s plot. It’s by no means bad by any standard but something that has irked me for a wee while is Disney film’s plots of late seem to be very easy to untangle and you can guess the villain about halfway through the film. Hell, I didn’t even need that long in Big Hero 6 and, while Zootown does take a bit more work, you do have a few “oh, it’s this moments” and you’ll probably be right. Yet, although the plot is a bit by the numbers, it still does it so with new ideas and a good message which allows you to forgive it for the most part.
But something I did not expect from this film is the abundance of referential humour. Seriously, Jared Bush and Phil Johnston deserve some recognition for this. It’s so unexpected from a Disney film that I almost died several times, especially when Chief Bogo said that “problems don’t go away if you just sing about it” and to if you have that mentality to should “let it go”. Thank you for that gem, but trust me, there are more sprinkles of awesomeness hidden in here, and even one huge one that little kids may not get but loads of teenagers and adults will and it is perfectly done.
In all seriousness, Zootopia is a beautifully animated, probably their best looking computer animated film in years, one of the funniest I’ve seen from them, and probably the one with ta lot to say about society and xenophobia in a way that we all needed to hear that lets Zootopia really punch above its weight.