“This isn’t some insipid cartoon musical where you sing some stupid song and everything’s going to be OK.”

That line is delivered in Zootopia, the 55th feature film from Walt Disney Animation Studios, by gruff water buffalo police chief voiced by Idris Elba, still best-known as crime boss Stringer Bell from HBO’s very un-Disney The Wire. And as a summation of the film itself, boy, is it on the nose.

Perhaps in a calculated bid to show up the sometimes mature themes we’ve come to expect from Disney’s corporate cousins at Pixar, directors Byron Howard (Tangled) and Rich Moore (Wreck-It Ralph) have assembled a film that is deeply, thoroughly, almost inconceivable steeped in the au currant politics of racial identity.

In the world posited by Zootopia, anthropomorphic mammals — having long ago voluntarily cast off their biological imperatives to serve as “predators” and “prey” — live in relative harmony in a sprawling metropolis. It is a world where young fuzzy wuzzies are taught that “anyone can be anything,” a sentiment taken to heart by country bumpkin Judy Hopps (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin), who strives to become the city’s first bunny policy officer.

She struggles, but ultimately perseveres through officer training school, though her position on the force is assured mostly thanks to the mayor’s “Mammal Inclusion Initiative.” She soon learns that she is regarded by the chief as a mere token hire, and relegated to meter maid duties.

Affirmative action is far from the only touchy subject Zootopia seeks to address, as it dives headlong into animal analogues to subjects like code switching and unconscious bias. The plot follows traditional film noir conventions, as Judy teams up with a con-man fox named Nick Wilde (voiced by Jason Bateman) to uncover a political conspiracy. But it wears its racial politics on its sleeve from scene to scene. In one, Judy opines that only bunnies are allowed to call other bunnies “cute.” In another, she upbraids Nick for thinking it’s OK to pat a sheep’s wooly head. The film even presents a demagogue politician who looks to stir fear of the city’s predators, who represent 10 percent of the population, as a means to higher office.

But a lingering question is how much of it will land with the film’s intended audience. Based on the reactions of the children in the screening I attended — potentially, not very much. With the exception of a scene highlighted in the trailers that focused on a DMV staffed entirely with sloths (the film’s admonitions against stereotyping apparently don’t extend to government workers) there was nary a chortle during the film, whose dark, noir-ish tone also takes an unexpected detour into horror for one stretch.

Zootopia’s heart is certainly in the right place and the visual landscapes it crafts are tremendously creative. For grownups, there’s a lot to chew on, including Shakira voicing a pop-singing gazelle whose hips ought never be accused of mendacity. But for parents, a word of caution is in order — this isn’t your usual funny animals flick.

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