Luck movie review: Apple’s animated adventure suffers from the unfortunate distinction of being a mediocre Pixar clone
Luck primary conceit is conveyed in an early scene on Apple TV+. It’s story-driven and character-driven physical comedy. Sam is unlucky. Orphaned and raised in a home for girls, she’s introduced to us when she’s ready to go. Sam can’t do fundamental duties; how can she live normally?
Luck is directed by Peggy Holmes and produced by former Disney head John Lasseter. After opening in a recognizable reality, it spends much of its short-ish runtime in a fantasy land like Inside Out and Soul. The movie doesn’t tell us how unlucky Sam is or show him pouting for two or three scenes. Instead, it displays her frustrations.
Sam never found her “forever family” and is the type of person who hides herself in a room without walls. In that terrific sequence, Holmes shows Sam’s daily hardships. This wordlessly sets up the tension and foreshadows her ingenuity later in the tale. Sam has always been behind, so she’s learned to get out of jams.
When a stray black cat gives her a ‘lucky cent,’ her luck changes. Sam gets to work on time, her misplaced socks appear, and her kitchen shelves don’t self-destruct. Sam makes a decision. She doesn’t retain the penny for herself, despite the nice changes it has brought to her life. Instead, she gives it to her (much younger) best friend at the home for girls where she grew up, so she isn’t left unadopted like her.
Sam’s unselfish goals earn her more than brownie points. She devours it. It’s not cynical or manipulative. The first 45 minutes are among the year’s greatest in a children’s film. Sam travels the black cat to the fictional Land of Luck, where good luck and bad luck separate civilization. Sam learns that a firm headed by leprechauns and dragons manufactures and randomly assigns luck to humans, while other creatures, like the black cat, roam the actual world and carry out luck-related assignments. Here, the film resembles Monsters Inc.
The more away from Sam’s friend’s lucky coin the story drifts, the more it loses its fundamental elements. The longer it stays in Luck, the more it will be compared to better Pixar pictures.
Before taking over Walt Disney Animation, the animation icon led Pixar’s Brain Trust. After the #MeToo movement, Disney fired him for a history of misbehavior. Lasseter joined Skydance Animation two years later. Skydance will produce four films for Apple, including Luck. This means you must separate the art from the creator. Animation, especially at this size, is less auteur-driven than most filmmaking. Lasseter’s role as a producer isn’t all-encompassing.
His storytelling sensibility will be familiar to Disney and Pixar aficionados. Sam’s trip is warm despite clichés. Luck, unlike many Pixar flicks, plays it safe.
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