Luck (2022) Review!!

Synopsis – The curtain is pulled back on the millennia-old battle between the organizations of good luck and bad luck that secretly affects everyday lives.

My Take – Based on the range of content they have been offering, ever since their launch in 2019, there is no doubt that Apple TV+ has been killing it both with their film and original series catalogue, providing both quantity and quality. Hence, it was unsurprising to witness the surging streamer’s first animated feature arrive last week with much fanfare.

With much of the hype coming from the fact that the film is produced by John Lasseter, Pixar co-founder and animation superstar known for directing groundbreaking films like Toy Story (1995) and Toy Story 2 (1999), and for being an executive producer on Monsters, Inc. (2001), The Incredibles (2004) and Inside Out (2015) among many others.

Who left the studio five years ago following reports of inappropriate behavior, and found himself hired as Skydance Animation‘s Head of Animation. A controversial move in the hopes of trying to replicate the success of Disney, Pixar, DreamWorks Animation and Illumination with an animated family feature of their own.

Running for about 105 minutes, the result is an easy watch that is watchable, comical and accompanied by colorful visuals, yet in comparison to recent entries into the genre, it is surprising quite bland and lackluster. Directed by former Disney animation choreographer Peggy Holmes, who had previously helmed two direct-to-video Little Mermaid sequels and two Tinker Bell films, and co-written by Kiel Murray (Cars, Raya and the Last Dragon) and writing partners Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger, known for penning the Kung Fu Panda and Troll franchise, the film is not terrible exactly, just plain forgettable, with a plot that lacks drive and beat down by underwhelming aesthetics, which is surprising for a film that has been budgeted at $140-200 million.

Though John Lasseter‘s trademarks are pretty clear on the final product, with various influences from his far previous films being quite evident and some very charming moments, but where this one falls short is making a strong registration in one’s memory with its poignant storytelling, always a strength of Pixar. As a result, despite the beautiful animation and a unique lesson, Apple TV+ and Skydance’s first animated film jinxes itself by being plain ordinary.

The story follows Sam Greenfield (voiced by Eva Noblezada), a klutzy 18-year-old orphan who has aged out of the foster home having never experienced a forever family. Nevertheless, Sam has maintained a positive outlook on life, despite what she sees as a never-ending streak of mishaps, accidents, unfortunate coincidences, and overall bad luck. And has been especially very supportive of her younger friend Hazel (voiced by Adelynn Spoon), who holds out hope for adoption and is a collector of good luck charms, missing only a lucky penny.

However, life offers an opportunity when Sam, while bumbling through her first days as an independent woman, finds herself a lucky penny, following her offering of a sandwich to a black cat, that is until her bad luck hits again before she can deliver it to Hazel. Determined to find another one, she sees the same cat, who is named Bob (voiced by Simon Pegg) and can apparent talk, Sam ends up following him into a portal into the Land of Luck, ruled by Babe the Dragon (voiced by Jane Fonda) and governed by The Captain (voiced by Whoopi Goldberg), a leprechaun.

Without a doubt, screenwriters Kiel Murray, Jonathan Aibel, and Glenn Berger are clearly proud of the world they’ve concocted here. But unfortunately for them, the premise is thin and feels convoluted besides an overly simplistic, overly expository closure. Even with a unique lesson in tow, the lack of emotional storytelling flattens the most imaginative qualities of the film. As beautiful as the animation is, the film still feels like a lesser iteration. It doesn’t help that information like mythology or character motivations are never conveyed in interesting ways.

While Sam makes for a good protagonist whose motivations are truly selfless, which wins her more than just brownie points. The problem is that after the first few bad luck accidents in the first act, they never build upon themselves. They also end up being pointless. Not to mention, one would think surviving all these accidents may make her the luckiest one on earth. It’s the same gag over and over, which is the equivalent of reminiscing over the same old stories with friends that become tiresome and stale.

Things begin to wobble further, the minute Sam accompanies the black cat to the fantasy Land of Luck. And then the farther the story gets from the central mission i.e. securing a lucky penny for Sam’s friend, the more frequently it begins losing its grip on its central themes. But more unfortunately, the longer it spends in the Land of Luck, it makes itself more vulnerable to unfavorable comparisons to better films.

Sure, Sam and Hazel have a unique friendship, but Hazel was barely in the film. Sam and Bob’s eventual friendship was cute, but their friendship didn’t see any major tribulations or growth that would have viewers rooting for them. Even when the Land of Luck was in trouble and needed saving, it didn’t actually feel like there were going to be implications in the living human world.

Yes, it’s all a bit convoluted, but what the film gets right are the colorful visuals and the fun characters. For what it lacks in emotional storytelling, the film makes up with beautiful animation. The design of the Land of Luck in particular is beautiful and the character of Sam looks somewhat similar to the way Pixar designs their human characters too, with big eyes and exaggerated expressions to convey emotions like excitement, worry, and determination.

Voice performance wise, Eva Noblezada does a pretty good job, and is ably supported by Whoopi Goldberg, Jane Fonda, Flula Borg, Lil Rel Howery, Colin O’Donoghue, John Ratzenberger and Adelynn Spoon. With Simon Pegg stealing the show by being his hilarious self while lending his voice to a mischievous, yet adorable cat. On the whole, ‘Luck’ is a bland and ordinary animated adventure that is entertaining only in bits.

Directed –

Starring (voices of) – Jane Fonda, Simon Pegg, Whoopi Goldberg

Rated – G

Run Time – 105 minutes

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