This deft comedy set in a world in which all the different animal species have put aside their natural positions on the food chain to coexist in harmony is the latest in a run of first-rate family films from Disney. However, of the all their recent animations, this is the one that feels closest tonally to the output of sister company Pixar. There’s even a playful dig at Disney’s top grossing picture so far: Idris Elba’s gruff wildebeest police chief berates the city’s first bunny cop, Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin), for her insipid dreams, urging her to “let it go”. The animation is first rate – fur is rendered so realistically that it could trigger an allergy at 50 paces – but it is the writing that elevates the picture. The elegant set-up of the premise – in a school play – also serves to foreshadow the climax. The themes of cultural sensitivity and political correctness are handled with real wit: “A bunny can call another bunny cute,” explains Judy patiently, “but you can’t.” The only weak point is the soundtrack, which features a honking, bland-storming anthem courtesy of Shakira, voicing a pop icon called Gazelle.
Wendy Ide is the Observer's chief film critic