Disney’s in-house animation department has been on something of a roll in recent years with the inventive Wreck-It Ralph, world-conquering Frozen and sublime Big Hero 6, even rivalling the output of their subsidiary arm Pixar. John Lasseter’s appointment as head of animation has seen a notable rise in the quality of their work, and audiences seem to have responded warmly too. Their latest effort looks like pretty standard stuff on the surface (anthropomorphic animals are a pretty lazy choice to make a film appeal to children and adults alike), but there’s a tremendous amount going on under the hood here, with a delicately structured fable that mounts a damning indictment of prejudice while smashing gender and racial stereotypes. It almost makes up for Disney’s poor historical form in those fields…

It’s obviously nice when companies who make films primarily aimed at children include progressive ideas in their subtext, but here the theme of inclusivity and the rejection of xenophobia is the actual plot. It’s text, not subtext – children won’t miss it if they’re not really paying attention or don’t know how to read into such things. As distracting as other things are – the animation is visually sumptuous, the humour is rich and varied, and the plot is surprisingly complex and interesting – it’s truly impressive to see a film reject the current racist language of fear that politics seems awash with. Any film that promotes love and diversity over hatred and intolerance should be compulsive viewing for kids and adults alike.

Another finely-animated, tightly scripted feature-length animation from a studio back on its A-game8
A shockingly blunt and brilliant message promoting tolerance and inclusivity10
A female lead character who spends her whole time saving everybody else10
Essentially a pro-immigrant fable that encourages kids to reject the current political language of fear10
Some genuinely clever digs at Disney's own problematic past9
Bechdel Test Passes
  • Features more than one named female character
  • The named female characters talk to each other
  • They talk about something other than men
Bechdel Test Failures
  • n/a
9Overall Score

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