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Zootopia

Year: 2016
Studio: Disney
Director: Byron Howard/Rich Moore
Writer: Byron Howard/Jared Bush/Rich Moore/Josie Trinidad
Cast: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, Bonnie Hunt, Tommy Chong, JK Simmons, Octavia Spencer, Alan Tudyk, Shakira, John DiMaggio

It might be just me, but kids' films are getting better. Perhaps buoyed by the staggering success of Frozen , Disney in-house animation (outside Pixar) has put a lot of effort into a quick-witted, funny story with visuals that has a real sense of scope. Another fairly outstanding element is the casting, with fox Nick (Jason Bateman) actually reminding you of the actor himself with his patter and knowing eyes.

Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) is a small town rabbit who wants nothing more than to be a cop in the big city of Zootopia, a place much like ours but devoid of humans and in which animals of every kind work as cops and con-men, drive cars, live in apartments and conduct the kind of lives humans do in the real world.

When she graduates from the academy and finally gets her assignment, her tough and dismissive captain (Idris Elba) shunts her unceremoniously to traffic tickets. Judy throws herself into the task with unalloyed and good-natured enthusiasm, but on her first day falls foul of the sly con artist Nick.

At the same time, there's a Zootopia-wide conspiracy involving animals apparently gripped by sudden savagery, descending into the natural state of predator or prey – a state everyone seems to appreciate that the animal kingdom has evolved out of.

Judy and Nick have to team up to get to the bottom of it while the police who won't take her seriously dither and get nowhere, and their adventures take them through the many worlds of Zooptopia, all based on different animal habitats and human cities.

Aside from the usual crap about following your dreams, it actually has something pretty smart to say about modern society's hysterical response to terrorism and similar dangers by reacting with racism and xenophobia.

There's also a thousand tiny details and laughs like the iPhones having a carrot instead of an Apple and the weasel mafia don. The structure and script have been polished until they hum and despite myself, I couldn't help liking it.

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