When it was released in the US, Zootropolis set the record for the highest earning opening weekend for any Disney animated film – it dethroned Frozen. Obviously the film was released at an ideal time but is there more to its success than that? After watching it, the answer is a resounding yes.
It always amazes me how Disney can continue to produce such heart-felt, original, and well-executed content after so many years but they do. The animation studio is perhaps best remembered for their princess movies but Lilo & Stitch, Meet The Robinsons and Big Hero 6 are some of the fantastic titles that Zootropolis can now join the ranks of and perhaps sit on top of.
The film is set in a society in which there are no humans but rather animals that have evolved to co-exist peacefully and form a society as we know it (schools, public transport systems, jobs, a healthy dose of racism – but we’ll get to that later). A bunny named Judy (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin) becomes a cop despite prejudice and has 48hrs to solve a missing persons case. She enlists the help of a conman fox named Nick (voiced by Jason Bateman) and the two solve the case together.
Whilst I’ve stripped the story down to its bare bones, if you watch it you can appreciate how allegorical it is and also how relevant it is to the struggles that we’re currently facing. There is an unspoken divide between predators and prey in much the same way as there are divisions between certain groups in our own society. Some of the dialogue used was particularly striking and whilst this movie is fun there is this constant underlying message about racism.
How exactly is the kids’movie about racism fun? Well, the characters certainly help. The protagonist, Judy, is the most relentlessly optimistic and idealistic character you’re likely to see on screen. The jaded, bitter part of myself feels like I ought to hate her but much like Leslie Knope from Parks and Recreation it’s just not possible. Still, she’s not just sugar and spice: she has an iron will and is far more intelligent than people expect but she’s not infallible either. We see that she has some deep, ingrained prejudices of her own but she deals with that and owns up to it.
She’s paired with Nick, the wise-cracking misanthrope who I absolutely adore. The dynamic between these character types has been tried and tested many times in other shows and movies but even though it’s not exactly mind-blowing, it works. These characters aren’t one-dimensional and we see them grow and change together.
The animation is spectacular which is to be expected from Disney but not disregarded. The city of Zootropolis with its five different ecosystems is a work of art but the rainforest was the location that caught my eye the most. The detail is breath-taking and when I think about how long it took to draw and animate my brain shuts down a little bit.
Overall, this latest outing from Disney is beautiful – but if this hasn’t convinced you to watch it then I have one word for you: Shakira – yup, gazelle-Shakira.