An entertaining movie that successfully melds weighty social issues into different aspects of its lighthearted conceit.
It’s treatment of gender/race discrimination in a setting of antropomorphized animal society goes much further than any other recent big budget animation films I’ve seen (How to Train Your Dragon, Kung Fu Panda etc), working in even those not-so-obvious biases rooted in a fear of past power wielders. And on top of it, it illustrates the politics of fear quite accessibly. None of this social commentary seems forced in but flows organically from the story’s central premise. All the while, it milks laughs wittily from the quirky setup 1. There’s some good pop culture pokes 2 as well, the Godfather parody being very funny to me despite its lack of subtlety. And the mystery-detective thread, while simplistic, was better than Spotlight’s (atleast IMHO).
But in the end, I felt it wrapped it all up with a cute little bow by attributing real-world “messiness” to external factors (drugs/night howlers) and implying it can all be cured away. It doesn’t really answer the question it itself raises about how it’s all kumbaya (mostly) with such integration of prey and predator. That’s the biggest leak in the abstraction overall, which while leaving a tint of dissatisfaction at the end, doesn’t mar the enjoyment of the film any.
1 Judy quickly calculates the fox’s backtaxes, quipping her felicity at multiplication comes from being a rabbit.
2 The moment they showed that underground nursery, I expected a Breaking Bad reference, and it delivered.