Byron Howard (Tangled), Rich Moore (Wreck It Ralph) and Jared Bush (Big Hero Six) take us into this complex world riddled with environmental issues, racism and political corruption to name a few of the quite adult problems in this children’s flick. Goodwin’s (Once Upon A Time) Judy Hopps is allocated all the menial jobs due to her docile nature of being a rabbit. It’s time for this innocent, sweet rabbit to stand out from the herd and dish out some justice.
From the biggest elephant to the tiniest mouse, Zootopia is a city of mammals where they all live and grow together. When Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) becomes the first ever bunny to join the police force, she quickly sees how hard it is to do actual police work. She is determined to show that rabbits aren’t only made for farming and she can be an actual cop. She jumps at the chance to work a mysterious missing persons case. Unfortunately, that means having to work with the sly fox, Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) who makes her job harder by being a constant thorn in her side.
Byron Howard, Rich Moore and Jared Bush are the three directors but also helped with writing on the movie. There are actually eight writers altogether who pooled their creative genius into one cauldron to create this absolute corker of a movie. Others on the team were Josie Trinidad (Princess & The Frog), Jim Reardon (WALL-E), Phil Johnston (Wreck It Ralph), Jennifer Lee (Frozen) with Dan Fogelman (Tangled) who helped with additional story material. Disney have churned out really thought-provoking movie and it wouldn’t surprise me if this film went over the vast majority of kids’ heads because many parts were very adult but very wordy too. It’s socially and culturally aware and Disney have cloaked it with colourful anthropomorphic beings thus having animals talking. Essentially, it’s about racism. Adults watching it would immediately pick up on this but most kids wouldn’t.
Jason Bateman (Identity Thief) and Jennifer Goodwin (Once Upon A Time) star as Nick Wilde and Judy Hopps. She has been newly recruited to the police force from living a docile and quiet life on a farm in the countryside. Being the first ever bunny cop, she has something to prove. She has to prove everyone that rabbits are more than docile creatures and can actually achieve something greater than living the quiet life and not being noticed. Hopps wants to make a difference and unlike every other cop in Zootopia, she wants to do real police work and not sweep important issues under the carpet. Stereotypically, foxes can’t be trusted, thus the term “as sly as a fox” and predictably, Nick is a con-artist. You can see where this movie is going by showing us the stereotyping of different animals. This is something bigger than our bogstandard Disney movie. Wilde is a thorn in her side and their fates become entwined when this fox is her first lead in what soon becomes a great conspiracy that goes all te way up to the Mayor’s office.
It should be common knowledge that politics is full of hypocrisy, back room dealings, lies and deception. Mayor Lionheart (J.K. Simmons) embodies these things wholeheartedly by telling his constituents that “In Zootopia, anyone can be anything”. Well, I found this highly amusing since the writers are using the modern world as grounding this movie, not just his character. Anyone can’t be anything in this world or Zootopia. It’s not just about what you know, it’s about who you know. You could be smartest person but if you don’t have the right connections, you won’t get anywhere and this shows that the system can’t be trusted because it’s dirty and corrupt. Those as timid as sheep who you thought friends eventually show their true selves. I suppose the predator instinct is in both herbivores and carnivores. It’s not a world for the weak. Hunt or be hunted.
Mayor Lionheart believes that herbivores only exist to serve carnivores, as we see with Assistant Mayor Bellwether (Jenny Slate) because carnivores hold the power. Wilde and Chief Bogo (Idris Elba) also imply a similar message to Hopps who is naive in coming to the city from the pure and good nature of the countryside. She’s not used to swimming with sharks. He uses the term “anyone can be anything in Zootopia.” It is a ruse to trick herbivores into thinking they have equal rights when in reality, they don’t. Sound familiar? This movie dismantles the system in a fun and amusing way with ease.
It’s no secret that Disney have no fly zone when it comes to racism. Walt Disney was a known racist and an anti-Semite. Even after his death, Disney movies subtly hide racist messages as we see in movies like Aladdin, Lion King and Peter Pan. Then Zootopia hits cinemas and its condemning racism. Not just in Disney movies, but even now racism is still too touchy a subject to attempt making a movie about. Every movie about slavery or civil rights seems to spark outrage on the web. But Zootopia handles the topic well without sparking online hate threads. I also enjoyed the adult themed references where we have a continuous gag throughout theme with The Godfather. In these scenes there are moments of dark humour. They have made light of a dark gritty mafia movie to great effect. The Godfather is one of the most iconic and classic movies of all time. Those scenes are almost a parody and an excellent parody at that. This is a movie you can’t refuse.
In conclusion, the cast all round was excellent and so were their voice performances. For a kid’s movie, it told some hard truths about the world we live in as well as our nature, whether that be animal or human. The animation was great as always and I suffered a chuckle at the nods to Frozen and The Godfather.