Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. USA, 2016. Walt Disney Pictures, Walt Disney Animation Studios. Story by Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Jared Bush, Jim Reardon, Josie Trinidad, Phil Johnston, Jennifer Lee, Screenplay by Jared Bush, Phil Johnston. Produced by Clark Spencer. Music by Michael Giacchino. Production Design by David Goetz. Film Editing by Jeremy Milton, Fabienne Rawley. Academy Awards 2016. Golden Globe Awards 2016. New York Film Critics Awards 2016. Washington Film Critics Awards 2016.
Animals were once divided into predators and prey but generations have passed and evolution has brought them to a peaceful co-existence in a world much like ours. Good will aside, however, old prejudices still exist: foxes are not trusted and rabbits are underestimated, so it requires quite a lot of gumption for Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin in her best ever performance) to pass her exams at the police academy. No bunny has ever been made an officer before, so her graduation is something she wears with pride before being sent to the city and relegated to grueling duty as a meter maid. While ticketing illegally parked cars, she meets a fox named Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) who uses his societal rejection as an excuse to be a very accomplished con artist. These two unlikely heroes have to team up when a number of predators in their metropolis start going feral and attacking their fellow citizens, causing the city to wonder if modern progress really is successful or if things need to go back to a harsher sense of natural selection and a more defined food chain. Despite a diversity allegory that’s about as subtle as an elephant sitting in your lap, this animated comedy is a winner because of how fast-paced and fun it is, how perfectly cast all the voices are (including a marvelous Jenny Slate as the sheepish assistant mayor) and because its message is pointed not just at the willfully ignorant but at those of us with the best intentions. In an age when social media has us ceaselessly judging strangers and educating others on how to be more sensitive, it’s apt to see how often the characters in this film pontificate on social justice causes only to reveal their limited understanding of their own prejudices (the bunny who is told she’s small and adorable goes on to tell a fox that he’s well-spoken). Deeper meanings aside, however, it also has a plot worthy of Who Framed Roger Rabbit and is exciting to the last moment.