Latest animated caper from Disney starring a determined young rabbit called Judy Hopps, whose life-long ambition has always been to become a cop, policing the streets of Zootropolis where predators and prey animals live alongside one another in perfect harmony .. or so she thinks. Starring the vocal talents of Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman and Idris Elba (as the Chief of Police, natch).
“… do … ”
” … you …”
” … call … ”
” … a three …”
” … humped …”
” ….. camel … ?”
I won’t spoil it by giving away the punchline but watching a sloth tell a joke is in itself absolutely hilarious. The detail they put in that slow-moving but incredibly expressive face is one of the highlights of Zootropolis and of anything else in the history of animation if you ask me.
Two things are certain having watched Zootropolis at long last – it’s been out a while, after all. Firstly, there’s gonna be a sequel. The partnership between the rabbit and the fox is a classic Disney odd couple and deserves further development, with Bateman especially shining as the sly, worldly-wise grifter to Goodman’s naive ingénue of a cop.
Secondly, there’d better be a movie purely about the sloths. This is Despicable Me/Minions territory all over again and while the rest of the movie holds up perfectly well, one sloth in particular – the inaptly-named Flash – really steals the show. His entire sequence is beautifully put together and a classic example of when animated movies for kids hit the nail firmly on the head for any adults who might be watching. While on the surface these particular animals are funny anyway because they’re so slow, to then turn them into achingly painstaking civil servants is a masterful piece of satire.
As ever, there are multiple levels of humour at work here. Mr Big, the erstwhile villain and gangland leader in Zootropolis, is in fact really small – like a whole raft of historical maniacs – while children will laugh because he’s got a squeaky voice and his daughter’s got big hair .. well, for a shrew, anyway.
There’s also plenty of moralising, but again this is America and this is Disney: t’was ever thus, so if you complain now you’ve got to ask yourself why you’re watching it anyway.
Predators versus prey: the silent, timid majority versus the aggressive, loud and powerful minority. So far, so western world, right ?
Well, yes and no. All is not quite what it seems and the only thing black and white is a zebra. Or a penguin. And killer whales. Snow leopards. Lots of birds .. but I digress. You know what I mean.
There’s loads of little details in Zootropolis that really are fun from the different sized doors on the trains, through a certain post-it note on the assistant mayor’s telephone, right up to an entire sequence in Little Rodentia, a district populated by mice, rats and other .. well, I hate to use the word vermin but ..
The tiny cars.
The teeny traffic lights.
The weeny shops.
The sudden enormity of Judy as she bestrides an entire block.
Changes in scale happen frequently and just serve to add to the depth of the place.
The plot is pure film noir .. a real detective story.
Some characters are stereotypical and shallow, while others are more unusual and nuanced.
The script and dialogue is sharp and witty, with lots of interplay between the leads, and you never know quite which side any of them are on apart from ol’ goody-two-shoes herself, Judy.
Overall Zootropolis is a real winner and proof that Disney animation studios need not rely on Pixar to hit the heights anymore. Given this is the latest in a line stretching back through the superb Big Hero 6, the monster smash Frozen and the highly original Wreck-It Ralph – and also considering the woeful Good Dinosaur from Pixar themselves – it would seem we’re in the midst of a golden period for animated movies.