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Zootropolis - Review

Zootropolis

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

HAVING long been forced to exist in the shadow of Pixar, Disney Animation’s revival continues apace with Zootropolis, a fast-moving take on the mis-matched cop genre that plays equally well to adults and kids of every age.

Co-directed by Byron Howard and Rich Moore (whose credits include, respectively, Tangled and Wreck-It Ralph), the film has something for everyone to enjoy, while working on many levels.

For the young and innocent minded, there’s plenty of knockabout fun and slapstick humour to enjoy, coupled with a timely message about tolerance and integration, while pop culture references abound for adults and film fans to savour. What’s not to like about an animation that references both The Godfather and Breaking Bad?

The story follows ambitious small-town bunny Judy Hopps (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin) as she sets about fulfilling her lifelong dream of becoming a cop by joining the big city’s Zootopia Police Department.

At first reduced to being a meter maid, and forced to exist in the shadow of her towering fellow cops (comprised of rhinos and elephants), Judy nevertheless gets a shot at the big time when she begins to follow a lead on a missing person’s case (or vanished otter), subsequently enlisting the help of a con artist fox, Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman), to navigate the city’s various shady elements.

The ensuing case calls into question whether predators can co-exist with their former prey, while testing Judy’s resolve to the limit and beyond.

One of the most impressive things about Zootropolis is the way that it combines its many elements without succumbing to some of the pitfalls of other movies. It doesn’t dumb things down, never feels to preachy or schmaltzy and maintains a consistently fine balance between the comedy and the drama, while also ensuring that the pace seldom flags.

It’s also a visual treat, courtesy of the rich world that has been created and the sheer number of blink and you’ll miss them in-jokes. It’s easy to become lost in the world that Howard and Moore have created… while the characters are a blast too.

Goodwin ensures that Judy Hop is an endlessly endearing heroine, whose refusal to allow life to get her down is suitably inspiring and totally root-worthy, while Bateman proves to be spot-on casting as the wily, smooth-talking fox who is forced to develop a begrudging respect for his ‘partner’. The two make for a genuinely engaging double act who you would happily revisit in any future sequels.

But the support cast is excellent too, whether it’s the scene-stealing sloths that shone so brightly in the trailer (and get an extended run-out here), a Don Corleone-like shrew (Maurice LaMarche ), or the bullish police chief (voiced by Idris Elba). Even lesser characters such as Judy’s worried parents (Bonnie Hunt, Don Lake) make their mark.

The keen mix of inventive set pieces and well-realised movie references also works a treat (the latter providing plenty to keep an eye out for), while the various messages hit home without feeling forced.

All in all, Zootropolis feels like the complete package: an animated film the whole family can enjoy that looks destined for instant classic status.

Certificate: PG
Running time: 108mins
UK Release Date: March 25, 2016