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Review: Zootopia

Roslyn Hull

From the largest elephant to the smallest shrew, the city of Zootopia is a mammal metropolis where all types of animals live together. When Judy Hopps becomes the first rabbit to join the police force, she quickly learns how tough it is to enforce the law. Determined to prove herself, Judy jumps at the opportunity to solve a mysterious case. Unfortunately, that means working with Nick Wilde, a wily fox who makes her job even harder. IMDb

There is nothing (nothing) worse than a ‘worthy’ cartoon. Animations can be sad, beautiful, hilarious, frightening and very trippy – but the moment anamorphic characters angle for an Oscar through message heavy drama all is lost. Or it was, until now.

This film tackles some big (huge) issues – ethnic hatred, racial stereotyping, drug use, emotional abuse, equal rights, ignorance and even bullying – but they are the natural and organic elements of a fantastically entertaining story. Society’s trend towards PC-everything is even given a prod in the ribs and Nick’s backstory about wanting to be a Cub Scout is actually heartbreaking. I do not like moral manipulation in cinema as I like to make up my own mind about issues (crazy, I know) but I never once felt I was being manipulated. Just told a great story.

The collaborative (but separate) relationship between Pixar and Disney Animation is just taking this art form to amazing new levels. The breathtaking beauty of Frozen (Disney), tackling the un-tacklable in Inside Out (Pixar) and now this treasure? Wow. We moviegoers are the real winners.

Zootopia is hilarious. The two grown men behind me (happy to enjoy the film without even a token child) belly-laughed through several sequences – and I was happy to join them. The sloths at the DMV are a masterpiece of timing. Mr. Big – well, I do not want to give away anything but he is Brando-esque. Idris Elba voicing a water buffalo – genius voice casting and the sight gags? Subtle, very subtle but so good I predict lots of freeze-frames once the film is available to purchase. Check out the brand on Judy’s phone and Gazelle’s back-up dancers for starters.

However it is not just hilarious, the core of the story is a solid, meaty whodunit – with a few TV crime show style twists and edge of the seat moments for adults and older children to chew on. It also looks fantastic and is such a rich idea – the way the artists work out how to accommodate different climates and animal proportions in one city is just wonderful.

Another surprising thing, each character is fleshed out – there is a sense of them having their own story and that they are not just there for comic relief. Everyone contributes richly to the story. Even the howling wolves (one of my favourite moments) and the fly-blown yak are essential to the story.

Ginnifer Goodwin voiced Judy Hopps and she does a very good job of getting across fluffy sweetness with a core of steel. She is in very good company, the voice talent is rich, varied and absolutely suits each animal. Jason Bateman voices Nick so naturally that it is as if he has always been a wily fox.

While I am writing this I am replaying parts of the film in my head – not because I need to but because that will have to do until I can get back to the cinema to see this splendid film again.

Roslyn saw this film as a guest of Limelight Cinemas, Tuggeranong.


Ros Hull

Roslyn is a writer and storyteller who loves all things Canberra, her family, sci fi and movies – but not in that order. She has worked in museum education since 2001 and has a passion for imparting knowledge to others. Writing is her happy place, particularly if there is a dog at her feet and a coffee in her hand. More about the Author