Damn these things are cute. Aaah, isn’t it just so bloody-well fluffy. A world where anyone can be anything. The kind of positive message all children can warm to and embrace like a familiar blanket and adults can sagely roll their eyes at, whilst wishing they were still young enough not to have to sit through this with the pint-sized demons they have inevitably spawned and paid for, because of either too much alcohol or too little common sense, or maybe even a combination thereof. I have suffered through this period and have come out the other side, a more jaded, sadistic and sceptical human being for the experience.
The only reason I sit here watching this today is for you, gentle reader, so you too might avoid an unnecessary and unpleasant one hundred minutes pretending like you’re paying attention, when in fact, you’re plotting an innovative and unsuspicious way of murdering your nearest and dearest, claiming the inheritance and insurance money and moving to the Bahamas with a perky young thing with legs up to there called Candy Straddle.
“It’s great to have dreams, just so long as you don’t believe in them too much.”
A sobering message from the parents of our female rabbit lead, Judy Hopps (yes, really) when she loudly exclaims her desire and ambition to become the first ever police officer that is also a rabbit. If you can’t imagine Tigger singing “The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers” in the background, even in the first few short minutes, then your heart isn’t really in it, I’d wager. There is altogether too much bouncing and effervescent spirit for my liking, I’ll admit it.
But Judy, with the indomitable spirit of a bus with Sandra Bullock driving it, goes ahead and achieves her dreams. She moves to the titular megacity of Zootopia to start her glittering career, with the intention of carving her future on her own with one parking ticket at a time, if need be.
Lucking into a missing persons case, she meets Nick, a wily (sorry) young, street-wise fox and mostly through coercion with a touch of blackmail, Judy manages to convince Nick that he needs to help her find the missing Mr Otterman, one of fourteen Zootopian inhabitants that the police are looking for. Hence, adventure!
And it’s here that the tone changes from the frivolous, throwaway Disney we have come to expect, replaced by a darker tale that despite its lush, furry exterior, contains a bit more menace than we might have anticipated. Whether the very young will appreciate this as much as an interminable feelgood frenzy is a question only the parents will know, but it is worth mentioning that there is more story here with unexpected weight.
The animation, as expected, is excellent with every ruffle of fur realised and the voice acting from both Ginnifer Goodwin (Judy) and Jason Bateman (Nick) are on point. The plot is twisty enough to entertain both young and old but never stretches so far as to confuse younger minds and the same can be said of the script, which may be a little too advanced for very young viewers, like some of the scenes
In all, a pleasant surprise that made even this bluff old cynic smile from time to time. It’s not riotously funny. It’s not riotously anything, in fact, but nonetheless, this is a solid and well-delivered animated adventure.