Animation joy in buddy cop comedy combined with noir
Published 02/04/2016 | 00:00
Creatures great and small live in perfect harmony in Byron Howard and Rich Moore's anthropomorphic animated feature that continues Disney's winning streak under the creative leadership of John Lasseter.
Zootropolis is a beautifully crafted parable that elegantly combines a noir detective thriller, buddy cop comedy and coming of age story with the studio's trademark visual splendour.
It's a tour de force of uproarious laughter and tears, accompanied by a gorgeous genre-melding orchestral score from Michael Giacchino that tugs the heartstrings.
Screenwriters Jared Bush and Phil Johnston engineer plentiful hairpin twists and turns, mining comedy from mammalian traits while underscoring each bravura set piece with valuable life lessons about prejudice, tolerance and teamwork.
Neat visual gags abound including, a small time weasel criminal selling bootleg DVDs of Disney animations Wreck-It Rhino and Wrangled, or familiar chain stores that have been cutely rebranded for creature customers.
Zootropolis even cheekily pokes fun at Frozen's song of empowerment, Let It Go, before unleashing its own infectious anthem, Try Everything, sung to the rafters by Shakira in the guise of a chart-topping savannah diva called Gazelle.
Bunnyburrow carrot farmer Stu Hopps (voiced by Don Lake) and wife Bonnie (Bonnie Hunt) try to dissuade their daughter Judy (Ginnifer Goodwin) from pursuing her dream of becoming the first serving rabbit police officer in Zootropolis.
'If you don't try anything new, you'll never fail,' chirpily professes Stu.
Unperturbed, Judy earns her police badge as part of the Mammal Inclusion Initiative championed by Mayor Leodore Lionheart (JK Simmons) and his diminutive second in command, Assistant Mayor Dawn Bellwether (Jenny Slate).
Judy is initially assigned to traffic duty by Chief Bogo (Idris Elba), who doubts her abilities.
In order to prove her worth, the new cop on the block vows to solve the case of a missing resident.
'I will give you 48 hours to find Emmitt Otterton. You strike out, you resign,' growls Chief Bogo, sensing an opportunity to rid himself of the bouncing bunny.
With the clock ticking, Judy gathers evidence from concerned wife Mrs Otterton (Octavia Spencer) and implores a con artist fox called Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) to help her break the case.
Working with an animal who should be her sworn enemy, Judy stumbles upon a grand conspiracy involving Arctic shrew Mr Big (Maurice LaMarche), who presides over the criminal fraternity in Tundratown with his polar henchbears.
Zootropolis is 108 minutes of unadulterated joy, rendered in exquisitely detailed animation.
Vocal performances are flawless, particularly Goodwin as the dreamer with a big heart, who truly believes that anyone can achieve their dreams if they put their paws to it.
A protracted sequence involving a three-toed sloth called Flash (Raymond S Persi), who works Department of Mammal Vehicles, is nothing short of genius.
Hop to it - Zootropolis is the bunny's whiskers.