‘Zootropolis’ (PG, 2016)

Perhaps one of the darkest animated children’s films I’ve seen, ‘Zootropolis’ is the story of a supposedly Utopian world where all animals – both predators and prey – live in harmony in the big city of ‘Zootroplis’.

The film mainly follows Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin), a small rabbit who – ever since she was eight – dreamt of becoming a police-woman for the Zootropolis Police Department. After becoming top of her class at the Police Academy, her dreams come true and she becomes a member of the ZPD. Although at first disappointed by her job, she eventually becomes overjoyed as she is given the case to find a missing otter in 48 hours. With the help of Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) – a sly, conman fox she meets on her first day at the ZPD – she uncovers a plot which threatens the entire city of Zootropolis.

As with most Disney films, ‘Zootropolis’ has an overall moral and this time it was ‘don’t judge book by its cover’. Animals such as foxes and other predators were judged as bad and savage wrongly in some cases and smaller animals – such as Judy Hopps – judged as weak and that they couldn’t handle tougher jobs. Also, there were only two women on the ZPD force, demonstrating the prejudice and sexism that may exist in the job.

The film paralleled the real world in many ways, with ‘Zoogle Photos’ and clear Apple references throughout (see if you can spot the iMac in one scene!). There were also references to other Disney films such as Wreck-It Ralph, Tangled and Frozen, and even a reference to a non-Disney film, The Godfather, in a few scenes.

This film was mainly a children’s film, but about midway through I thought it took a dark turn. One scene, in which Hopps and Wilde investigate an old hospital, shows animals savage and wild jumping around in cages and scratch marks on walls and on car seats. It reminded me of an episode of BBC’s Sherlock (my review of that series can be viewed here), namely The Hound Of Baskerville, in which Sherlock discovers a drug which stimulates fear in the brain cells and makes the user paranoid and sometimes insane. This scene in the hospital was not too dissimilar to this, and a bit later on there was a not-so-subtle drug reference where you see a man growing obscure plants with odd nicknames in a dark, dingy room away from the print eyes of the law.

Although in some places quite dark, ‘Zootroolis’ is a funny, animated Disney movie that I’d recommend to anyone looking for a good kids film. But, for its sometimes inappropriate scenes, I’m going to give ‘Zootropolis’ eight-out-ten.



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