If you’re the kind of moviegoer who approaches animated kiddie films searching for deep socio-political metaphors, Disney’s Zootopia will provide plenty of food for thought regarding prejudice and tolerance. If, on the other hand, it’s just some zany slapstick, zippy one-liners, and mild chuckles you’re after, you’ll walk out a much happier bunny. Written with caffeinated verve by Jared Bush and Phil Johnston, the ’toon is set in a modern animal-kingdom metropolis where predators like lions and tigers and bears live in harmony with their erstwhile prey like our rabbit heroine Judy, a bundle of ambitious cottontailed energy (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin) who leaves her family’s rural carrot farm to pursue a career as a big-city police officer. Determined to prove herself in the eyes of her skeptical superior (Idris Elba’s water-buffalo police chief), Judy sets out to solve a rash of missing-animals cases with the reluctant help of a sly, flimflamming fox (Jason Bateman).
Zootopia delivers the genre’s requisite barrage of quick-hit puns and pop culture riffs (a rat mobster modeled on Don Corleone), but the funniest moment comes when Judy goes to the Department of Motor Vehicles to run a license plate and gets her patience tested by a sleepy, slow-as-molasses sloth slumped behind the desk (Raymond S. Persi). Zootopia’s message of tolerance is a noble one. But it’s loopy moments like that that give this modest film its magic. B