Luck: An Honest Review

The sarcastically titled “Luck” marks the unlucky return of John Lasseter, the former Pixar Animation head who was fired from the business he co-founded in 2017 due to claims of unethical workplace behavior. He’s now back at Skydance Animation as the head of animation and a producer on “Luck,” which is available on Apple TV+.

But you shouldn’t need to understand any of that to conclude this film is a shambles, and one of the year’s worst. Anyone who isn’t a very young child will notice right away. Character design is rubbery and off-putting, speech is inane, antics are forced, and mythology is mind-bogglingly complicated. Worse, filmmaker Peggy Holmes’ account of a vacation to a mystical place lacks any charm. Sure, there’s the odd interesting device or ingenious form of transportation. But the folks that occupy both this realm and the actual world are so devoid of personality that it’s difficult to care if they ever attain their overly complicated ambitions.

A young woman just at the center of the picture is the most uninteresting of all. Eva Noblezada plays Sam, and she has a constant perkiness to her voice. Sam has spent her whole childhood bouncing between foster homes and orphanages, hoping to find her forever family; now, at 18, she has aged beyond the system and should stay in a tiny apartment in her generically lovely town. Not that the script by Kiel Murray, Jonathan Aibel, and Glenn Berger is concerned with this young woman’s inner life, but how does Sam feel about this possibility?

Sam’s life by herself is more difficult for her than it would be for the typical individual since she is plagued by bad luck. This is her distinguishing feature. We know this because her brave orphanage companion, Hazel (Adelynn Spoon), declares, “You really have horrible luck, Sam Greenfield,” as Sam ruins their improvised musical video shoot (to Madonna’s “Lucky Star,” of course). She’s clumsy; she spills things, gets stuck in the restroom, and can’t get the toaster to operate. A job at the local crafts store (where Lil Rel Howery voices her employer) adds to the mayhem, but this time it involves glitter, ribbons, and cactus. Everything is depressingly predictable.

Regardless of the struggle or setback, Sam remains cheerful and positive. This is also all too predictable. Watching her fumble and bumble through life joyfully makes you wish she’d been let free with a genuine feeling every now and then. The film’s youthful audience could undoubtedly connect to such turbulence.

However, things begin to improve when a grumpy black cat with a sparkling penny mistakenly takes her through a portal to the Land of Luck. This is the hidden location where leprechauns create nuggets of good luck for random distribution globally, similar to the factory in “Monsters, Inc.”—a rare glint of Lasseter’s influence here—everything from finding excellent parking to falling in love.

“Luck” is ideally suited for tiny children with low standards, thanks to its fanciful animals and vivid palette, as well as secondary characters like Jane Fonda’s fuchsia dragon and Flula Borg as a flashy German unicorn. Older children will get bored. Adults will find it extremely depressing, despite the fact that there is a pertinent lesson hidden somewhere behind all the glitter and despair about the benefits of failure and the dangers of lawnmower parenting.

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