Want a film that examines the present paranoid political climate of America? Look no further than Zootropolis (known in the US as Zootopia for some reason). This family-friendly animated crowd pleaser is in fact a thinly veiled condemnation of Trump-era wall building fear and hysteria. It’s also stunningly animated and very funny.
The plot concerns rookie bunny rabbit cop Judy Hops and a cynical con artist fox Nick Wilde, who work together to track down missing predators in an animal city where predators and prey have long since buried the hatchet and live together in peace. But there are rumours of predators turning savage again, for reasons that some believe are down to inevitable reversion to DNA programming, but others believe are the result of a conspiracy.
This is satisfyingly colourful fun, beautifully animated by directors Byron Howard, Rich Moore and Jared Bush, under the watchful eye of John Lasseter on executive production duties. Fine lead vocal performances are provided by Ginnifer Goodwin and Jason Bateman as Hops and Wilde respectively, with support from Idris Elba, JK Simmons and Shakira amongst others. The script is consistently laugh-out-loud funny, with one scene involving bureaucrat sloths being a stand out (and already much imitated by the offspring of yours truly). There are some well-judged jokes for the grown-ups too, in the form of The Godfather and Breaking Bad gags.
As for the political subtext, it isn’t particularly subtle, but it is heartfelt and sincere, with just the right amount of cynicism injected into the mix to leaven the earnestness. It’s good to see Disney poking fun at Frozen too. It doesn’t quite scale the impossible heights of Pixar’s finest work, nor the brilliant Disney animations of recent years (such as Tangled or Wreck-It Ralph). For one thing, the climax too closely echoes the plan deployed by Sully and Mike at the end of Monsters Inc.
Nevertheless, Zootropolis is a fun, diverting piece of entertainment for all the family.