While whisking us away to magical kingdoms and tapping into our imaginations, Disney have often had their fingers on the pulse of contemporary society. This is evident in their latest showing Zootopia, from directing duo Byron Howard and Rich Moore. The film, though equipped with that endearing sense of wondrous creativity, is a pertinent study and examination of the real world, as it’s a picture that centres around a political campaign based on the notion of fear, using the minority as a scapegoat, exploring themes such as prejudice and ignorance. Sound familiar?
Zootopia (or Zootropolis, if you’re watching in the UK) is the name of the fictitious city where anthropomorphic animals roam the land. One of which is Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin), a bunny who left her parent’s abode for pastures new, with dreams of becoming a cop. Surpassing expectations and joining the force, given her diminutive stature, she is assigned to parking duties. But when she becomes embroiled in the shady goings on of Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman), a fox and therefore a traditional nemesis, she stumbles across a hugely significant case of corruption, as she attempts to get to the bottom of the fact many predators are returning to their savage, biological instincts.
Zootopia marks a hugely ambitious endeavour for the animation studio, and in the perennial words of Aladdin, they’ve created a whole new world, and one that is remarkably easy to immerse yourself in. Much of that is down to the very subtle attention to detail, being a film that is meticulously well-crafted, with so much happening in the background that you could watch this picture five times and see something new with every single viewing. The film is distinctly good-humoured too, with a host of laughs to be had – particularly in the scene featuring the sloths. But at the same time Howard and Moore have managed to balance that with not only a profundity and poignancy, but with a whodunnit detective narrative; managing to display tropes from each and every notion without ever compromising the other, in a skilled manner which has become so identifiable of Disney’s work.
But above all it’s the relevance of this plot, and how it uses the animal kingdom to tap into certain aspects of our own world, giving off a strong, healthy message to kids – and one that several adults could well take on board too. For Zootopia is a film that can be enjoyed, equally, by both: appealing to the imaginations of parents and children alike, in a way only Disney knows how. There’s even, somehow, a Breaking Bad reference in this title – but that one, needless to say, is only for the former.