When animals run the world

Zootopia, a Disney animation in which all manner of animals run a metropolis, is a surprisingly amusing buddy-cop comedy

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Rookie officer Judy Hopps (left), eager to prove her worth in the police force, must work with con-artist Nick Wilde (centre) to solve a case. Look out for this hilarious sloth scene.

 

What would the world be like if animals were to run the world? According to Disney, it wouldn’t go to the dogs.
In this side-splitting animated comedy, the titular metropolis of Zootopia is a hotchpotch of different species and cultures of the animal kingdom coexisting in a giant urban melting pot.

It’s amusing how these different facets or ‘enclaves’ are portrayed too. There’s the glitzy Sahara Square for desert animals, Tundratown for creatures of the cold, the tropical Rain Forest District, Little Rodentia for tiny mice and Bunnyburrows for the countless adorable bunnies.

Nonetheless, the numerous species converge in Savanna Central, the bustling downtown area of Zootopia — and where most of the story takes place.

 

Outfoxing the Fox

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Judy (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin) is an optimistic and eager rookie cop, and the first ever rabbit in the police force of Zootopia.

 

Rookie officer Judy Hopps, voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin of “Once Upon a Time”, is the first ever rabbit in a police force of big brawny beasts. Determined to make her mark, she jumps at the opportunity to solve a mystery of animals gone missing.

Judy should have this in the bag. After all, she graduated top in her cohort at the academy. What she didn’t count on was wily foil, or fox, Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman of Horrible Bosses and “Arrested Development”), a fast-talking scam artist who turns out to be Judy’s only lead.

Nick is a cynic who believes that a leopard never changes its spots, and neither does any animal. What ensues is almost a cat-and-mouse chase, or fox-and-rabbit scramble, in which Judy has to con the con, Nick, into helping her crack the case.

 

Wild Goose Chase or Animal Attraction?

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Just like the human world, Zootopia is filled with both good and bad guys, which the two protagonists encounter during their investigation.

 

It seems that Disney has applied the winning formula of teaming two unlikely partners up for a wild goose chase — except that, in Zootopia, the comedy is amplified by the animal antics that abound.

Director Rich Moore said, “Judy and Nick — a rabbit and a fox — are natural enemies by definition… We put this country bumpkin who’s full of vim and vigour in the middle of the big city alongside Nick — the realist — and he gets to have a lot of fun messing with her.”

“But she has a few tricks up her sleeve,” he added.

This unusual relationship adds to the lively chemistry between them.

 

A Trip to Kenya that Brought a Big Change

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The animated movie features the animal-run city of Zootopia, where a hotchpotch of different species and cultures coexist in a giant melting pot.

 

Zootopia didn’t start out with this story, though. For years, Nick had occupied the foreground, with Judy playing a secondary but crucial role.

Fabienne Rawley, Head of Editorial, said, “We kept saying that we wanted Nick to be the main character. And sort of because of that, [we were] forcing a round peg in a square hole.”

That all changed after the filmmakers of Zootopia took a walk on the wild side in Kenya, Africa, for 18 months. Byron Howard, Director, said that, there, they observed predators and prey congregating around a watering hole, watching each other cautiously yet ‘behaving themselves’.

He mused, “That’s very much like our city. People are different in cities, and they have to get together to live.”

In that trip and observation they realised that Judy, the innocent and optimistic idealist, needed to be the focus in order to deliver an important message.

“We set out to make a funny animal movie. But the more digging we did, we saw an opportunity to talk about something important — while still having great fun with the story,” said Howard.

Watch Zootopia to find out what important message might be encapsulated in this society of humorous animals, and to watch the mystery of the missing animals unravel. This is certainly one entertaining movie for the whole family.
If it’s any indication, many people have already been talking about the amusing sloth scene in the trailer. Go, check it out!

 

By Pamela Chow

 

Zootopia [PG]

Director: Byron Howard, Rich Moore
Starring: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba & Shakira
Genre: Comedy, Animation, Family
Run length: 109 min
Release: 3 Mar

 

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