In many of the classic Disney animated films, the studio made no qualms about telling stories from the perspective of a cast full of animal characters. In fact, movies like Robin Hood and The Great Mouse Detective either did away with humans altogether or featured them as part of the backdrop, lending their characteristics to fur-covered leads instead. The 2016 release Zootopia aims to continue that trend.

Disney Animation’s Zootopia is a buddy comedy that focuses on con-artist fox Nick Wilde (voiced by Jason Bateman) and rabbit rookie cop Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) as they team up to solve a case. The script written by Jared Bush (who served as the ‘creative leadership’ on Big Hero 6play off of the stereotypes each type of animal has to deal with, all while gently poking fun at our own human society.

Now, courtesty of USA Today, we have a better idea of what to expect from Zootopia. Co-director Rich Moore (Wreck-It Ralph) describes the film as the tale of two species “who would naturally never hang out or like one another in the beginning, but over the course of the movie develop a relationship and become friends.” Here’s our first look at the film’s leads:

Zootopia Zootopia Image & Details: Disneys Animal Buddy Adventure

The style of animation certainly recalls that classic Disney feel and, more importantly, reflects the characters’ personalities. Bateman was reportedly cast as Nick because of his dry wit and ability to infuse even comedic lines with a modicum of heart. That style of performance has been perfected by the actor on the big screen over the years (as well as with his sarcasm-laden role on Arrested Development).

In the case of Judy, the animators were aiming to capture the character’s wide-eyed idealism and sweetness. However, the filmmakers admit that she has a temper that flares up from time to time, comparing her a cross between optimistic literary character Pollyanna and Mad Max: Fury Roads Furiosa (Charlize Theron). Here’s how Goodwin describes her character:

“She gets hoppity emotionally. People mistake kindness for naivete or stupidity, and she is a good girl through and through. But she’s not a dumb bunny.”

Zootopia Movie Pixar Concept Art Zootopia Image & Details: Disneys Animal Buddy Adventure

The characters’ designs hew closely to the above concept art released late last year (see above), and their descriptions certainly seem in line with Disney’s long-standing tradition of good-hearted, well-intentioned protagonists who end up closer by story’s end. It’s easy to see the message at its heart and the narrative track it will likely use to get there, but provided Zootopia has enough clever world-building (in place for its animals-only society) and fun comic adventure for its two leads, then the film could easily be a breakout hit with families.

After all, the studio has been on a bit of a hot streak lately, delivering monster hits like Wreck-It RalphFrozen (maybe you’ve heard of it?) and most recently, the Oscar-winning Big Hero 6. It’s too early to speculate about how Zootopia will measure up, but conventional wisdom indicates that audiences shouldn’t underestimate the Mouse House.

Zootopia hits theaters on March 4th, 2016.

Source: USA Today

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