DISNEY is getting serious again for a moment.
It is no stranger to dark territory; a recent revisit of The Lion King alerted me to just how grim it is with death, betrayal and an orphaned lion cub (it was loosely based on Shakespeare’s Hamlet), something that as a child was lost among the catchy tunes.
It is sometimes easy to forget the studio that indulges frequently in fairytale stories of princesses finding their prince (it was built on the success of Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella) can tackle something with substance.
After last year’s mental illness themed home run Inside Out, racism is explored in a colourful context in Zootopia.
Small town bunny Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) finally realises her dream, against all odds, to become a cop.
She moves to the big city, Zootopia, bustling with animals of all species, to commence her career, but is put on parking ticket patrol.
When Mrs Otterton (Octavia Spencer) comes to Judy to find her missing husband, the rookie teams up with con artist fox Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) to track him down.
Judy comes to realize that some animals have negative perceptions of other animals and their abilities, and pre-judged based on their appearance.
This is such a tricky issue to tackle for a children’s film, as many young people it is targeted at may not yet comprehend racism, however much like Inside Out it is handled delicately, cleverly and maturely.
The story, credited to an astonishing seven people and the script to two, manages to get the message across (without actually using the term ‘racism’) by illustrating how hurtful such negative prejudices can be.
Without being preachy about its message, it is woven into what is essentially a police procedural, making this a fun mystery to follow.
Directed by: Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Jared Bush
Starring: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba
Review by: Julian Wright
In cinemas now