The House of Mouse is on something of a roll at the moment, enjoying yet another ‘Golden Age’. It’s not just through its recent acquisitions of Marvel and Lucasfilm that Disney are riding high, their core Animation studio continues to go from strength to strength.
Coming hot on the heels of “Wreck It Ralph”, “Frozen” and “Big Hero 6”, “Zootropolis” takes its [UK] title from the city at the heart of a world where animals – both predators and prey – live side by side in harmony. Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin), an idealistic young rabbit, fulfils her dream of becoming a police officer but upon arrival in the city is assigned to traffic duty by cynical Police Chief Bogo (Idris Elba). On her traffic round, Hopps encounters grifter Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) who, it turns out, may just hold the key to solving a series of missing persons cases.
There’s such a colourful, joyous energy to “Zootropolis” that it hooks you in right from the start. The film is bursting at the seams with clever puns, visual gags and witty observations on everyday life that practically mandate repeated watchings, realised through the medium of its multi-cultural, multi-species world. There may not be any song and dance numbers in this one but there’s no shortage of fun and the plot zips along with humour and invention. While it’s breezy enough for the younger members of the family, it’s still a satisfying and intriguing mystery in its own right and the character designs across the board are inspired. The jokes aren’t just within the film’s world either and there are numerous Easter eggs and nods to Disney’s past, present and even future (“Moana” makes a brief appearance as a bootleg “Meowana” DVD) and there’s even a “Breaking Bad” reference which may mark both the zenith and the beginning of the end for “Breaking Bad” references being cool.
With a timeliness and topicality that beggars belief, above all else “Zootropolis” is a story about the important of acceptance, tolerance and diversity without ever being overtly preachy or heavy-handed and its focus on a female protagonist who is capable, courageous and fully realised is a welcome continuation on the trajectory of last year’s cinematic output.
If superhero smack downs aren’t your thing – and even if they are – you’re unlikely to find a family-friendly film as flat-out entertaining, philosophically uplifting and amusing as “Zootropolis” this Easter.