What They Say:
From Skydance Animation and the creative visionary behind Toy Story and Cars comes the tale of Sam Greenfield, the unluckiest person in the world! Sam’s quest to turn her luck around leads to a magical adventure in the never-before-seen Land of Luck.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Why does it seem like certain people have all the good luck? I’m sure you’ve been there before: You get a job, work as hard as you can, maybe you make a mistake here and there but nothing too bad, only for you to realize that Jeff who was there for just a few weeks got the job that you spent months aiming for. You sigh in frustration because Jeff clearly has good luck on his side to have gotten the job so easily. Or maybe it was because his uncle happened to own the store…maybe that’s what it was? Where was I going with this…oh yes, luck. Why do some people have it and some don’t? Honestly, there is no rhyme or reason. Some people don’t even believe in luck at all.
For those who do believe in such superstition then perhaps the latest animated film “Luck” may bring you some comfort, as the film tries to do for good luck what “Monster’s Inc.” did for monsters in the closet: take an old wives tale and create an imaginative and fun narrative around said tale. The movie comes from Skydance Animation, in their first film as they essentially declare war on the stranglehold of Pixar and Disney. Whether they will achieve this goal, time will tell, but from my perspective, they are off to a fantastic start! For while “Luck” may not be one of the best films of the year, it is a joyful viewing experience, and it evokes the joy and wonder of several Pixar films (most likely because Pixar co-founder – John Lasseter – has been hired to oversee the companies’ projects).
The story revolves around a young woman named Sam (Eva Noblezada), who has had bad luck her entire life. She believes this bad luck prevented her from being adopted and now that she has aged out of the foster care system, she is entering the real world and her bad luck is following her. Her luck literally changes though when she finds a lucky penny left behind by a black cat, and suddenly everything in life has become much easier. Her job is no longer a hassle, leaves don’t blow in her apartment, and (my personal favorite) every time she drops her toast it lands jelly-side up.
Sadly, the second she puts it down she manages to lose it in a scene clearly inspired by the first “Mission: Impossible” movie, and the only way she can get another one is by finding the black cat who originally dropped it and follow him to the ‘Land of Luck.’ Turns out, this is where the luck of the world is manufactured. It also turns out the cat’s name is Bob and is voiced by Simon Pegg in a bit of inspired casting. Though Sam is in awe of the world she has entered Bob is horrified, as a human with bad luck can really throw the balance (some may call it ‘zen’) of the Land of Luck off. Seeing that Sam trips over everything in sight while the residents of the Land of Luck walk on and off moving machinery without looking up from their newspaper, he may have a legitimate concern.
Still, she’s here now and won’t leave until she gets another lucky penny to give to her friend at the orphanage, so Bob will just have to help her get one. This includes some truly imaginative sequences that show a level of creativity that only animation can truly provide (my favorite being an unnecessarily complicated assembly line where the lucky pennies get made). There is also an interesting aspect to the world where the bottom half of the world is run by nothing but monsters who make bad luck, and both the good luck and the bad luck get thrown into the world where the people on the receiving end receive the luck purely by chance.
I will admit that this aspect does betray the whole concept that Sam seems especially prone to receive bad luck, and I was hoping that there would be a true explanation for why her life seems doomed to misery, and it’s one of the few areas where the film tends to fall a little short. While little issues like this do pop up from time to time, I found much of the film too delightful to care that much. I had to remind myself that “Luck” is the first major effort from a studio that wants to be a major player in the animation business, and I’ve seen far worse first efforts.
The mechanics of how the Land of Luck works are imaginative and seem to sprinkle in the bureaucracy of “Monster’s Inc.” and the mechanical wonder of “Inside Out.” Sam and Bob may not be the most insightful of characters I’ve seen in an animated film, but they are enjoyable to be around, and their chemistry is fun to watch. And if you can look me in the eye and say that the idea of Jane Fonda voicing a magical dragon doesn’t catch your attention, I suspect you have no imagination to begin with. The quality of the animation is top-notch and easily holds its own against “Lightyear” and “Minions: Rise of Gru” from earlier this year. I love how the colors seem to pop out of the screen and the enchanting score from John Debney gives the whole project a timeless feel.
Really, by every metric I can think of, “Luck” is an enchanting movie that should easily entertain kids while not boring their parents. Like most animated films, “Luck” didn’t have the easiest of development cycles. It was originally intended to be directed by Alessandro Carloni, who previously co-directed “Kung fu Panda 3,” as his first solo directorial effort. The movie wasn’t coming together as planned though, and Skydance decided they needed a producer to come in and save the movie (as well as steer the company in a stable direction).
That person ended up being John Lasseter, who helped spearhead the second ‘golden age’ of Disney Feature Animation. If you were unaware of the difficulties during production it would not be obvious that the film needed to be heavily re-worked, as the final product is professionally produced and executed. The end results were so impressive that Apple decided to enter into a multi-year deal with Skydance Animation to produce movies for their Apple TV+ service. While I believe kids will be missing out on a great theatrical experience, it is great that the cost of entry is so low, and I suspect many kids will be happily rewatching it over and over again.
Streamed By: Apple TV+