Monday, 21 March 2016


Depending on your current geographical circumstances, Disney's latest animated film about cuddly talking animals might be called Zootropolis, Zootopia, Zoomania, Zoogie Nights, Zood Where's My Car or Zoolander 2. But it matters not, for whatever you call it (although Zoolander 2 would be a bit confusing), this is Uncle Walt's best offering since the majestic Wreck-it Ralph, which is only really saying that it is better than Frozen and Big Hero 6. Why those films are so popular is quite beyond me; anyone would think they weren't aimed directly at miserable 40-somethings with hearts of lead.

Zootropolis (let's call it), of course, isn't aimed directly at me either, but I was caught in the peripheral spray of its eye-popping inventiveness, its wholeheartedly right-on social commentary and its fucking hilarious sloths, so I am therefore fully qualified to comment on its quality. "Anyone can be anything", runs the film's mantra, and while I am aware that science currently restricts me from being, say, an ocelot, I can at least pretend to be a film reviewer for a few minutes, so here goes.
Set in a world where human beings never existed to clog up the planet with pollution, caravans or TV shows presented by Nick Knowles, Zootropolis depicts a universe in which all animals get along and crack on with their lives regardless of class, race or position in the food chain. Into this furry utopia steps idealistic bunny cop Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin), who finds herself reluctantly teaming up with shyster fox Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) for a mismatched-buddy yarn that won't tax the plot-untangling department of your noggin but throws in an entire farmyard of smart gags and daft set pieces to make up for it. The scene in which Hopps "incites a scurry" in a district populated entirely by tiny rodents, for example, is the most fun I've had watching animals in a movie since The Revenant. Apart from the sloths, of course, who I think I may have already mentioned really are fucking hilarious.

Hopps and Wilde's investigation into the mysterious disappearance of several mammals is an enjoyable bit of whodunnitery, replete with red herrings (not literally; bit of a missed opportunity there), improbable clues and other police procedural standards, but that's not what Zootropolis is really about. The metaphors start to bash you around the head a little hard as the film goes on, but you hope it's so that the small people in the audience, whose intelligence is only marginally below that of the average film blogger, will soak up the messages: don't judge people on ill-founded stereotypes; rise above the expectations of those who judge you, and question those in power and their motives. It's pretty righteous stuff, but it's a humungously worthwhile and relevant thing for a kids' film to be saying, and it's done so intelligently that the life lessons slip almost unnoticed between the comedy stoned yak and the comedy gangster shrew.
And the fucking hilarious sloths

It will be of little surprise or interest to learn that the animation and background gags are spot on, that the world is beautifully and imaginatively realised, or that some of the voices are a bit too distractingly recognisable (sorry, Big Dris), so I won't mention any of that. It's Zootropolis' moral core for which grown ups will remember it the most; I don't know if its target audience will feel the same way because, despite my youthful good looks, I am not a child and I didn't have one to hand when I saw the film. But let's hope it all sinks in, because I for one believe that children are our future, and if we teach them well and let them lead the way while simultaneously showing them all the beauty they possess inside, then one day we can all live in harmony and total agreement that, seriously, the sloths are fucking hilarious.

No comments :

Post a Comment