LUCK – Review
Okay parents, the countdown to the return of the school year is close to single-digit days. Really, hard to believe, eh? Well before you start stockpiling blender ingredients for a celebratory beverage, you’ve still got to keep them entertained in the hazy last couple of Summer weekends (naturally the temps are still soaring almost everywhere). So, that may warrant a multiplex trek for some matinee fare for them. If they’re leaning toward the animated features, then it’s almost certain they’ve caught up with the Minions (maybe more than once). And if the kiddos are very “pre-K” the PG-rated superhero slapstick of DC LEAGUE OF SUPER-PETS may be a tad overwhelming. Ah, but there is a PG alternative (very rare) opening this weekend. It’s the feature animated debut of a new “player” in the field, though a few familiar faces are behind the scenes. Like the film’s heroine, these “newbies” are hoping for a big “heapin’ helpin'” of good, good LUCK.
Now that heroine is an energetic eighteen-year-old woman named Sam Greenfield (voice of Eva Noblezada), who we first see helping her eight-year-old BFF Hazel make an online music video to the early Madonna tune “Lucky Star”. The two live in a group foster home and Sam is hoping the project will take her pal’s mind off of her upcoming “weekend visit” with some possible parents. Sam’s been through it many times before, with lots of letdowns, and now she’s aged out. The house’s supervisor takes her to her new apartment in the city, just blocks from her new job at a “plants and crafts” retail store. Believing to be “cursed” with bad luck, Sam almost misses her first “work day” due to multiple calamities (“alarm failure”, “locked in the bathroom”. “drops toast which lands jam side-down”, etc.). Happily her affable boss Marv (Lil Rel Howery) “cuts her some slack”. That night Sam can’t get a table at the neighborhood eatery, so she shares a sandwich with a friendly black cat at the curb. The kitty dashes, leaving behind a sparkly penny. Sam keeps it, intending to give it to Hazel for her art project. The next morning things go extremely well, making Sam think that the coin has reversed her luck. And then she drops it “you know where” in the store restroom. That night Sam returns to the diner hoping to see the cat once more. When he strolls over she tells him what happened. And he talks back! Bob (Simon Pegg) leads her on a merry chase, ending in an alley where he drops down into a magical glowing portal. Sam follows and soon finds herself in the “Land of Luck” where she and Bob begin a hectic quest to retrieve that “lucky penny” and restore the balance of luck in that dimension and in Sam’s world.
Oh, the new studio I mentioned earlier? It’s Skydance Animation a branch of Skydance Media working out of Madrid (formerly Llion Studios). And the familiar name behind the film is none other than John Lassiter. The marketers are hyping the flick as being from the “minds behind TOY STORY”, but not mentioning that he was booted out of Disney Pixar during the MeToo movement. And this irked lots of SA staffers. But how’s the flick itself? Well, he couldn’t have picked a more mediocre first effort there. Perhaps it earned the “G” rating due to its complete lack of “bite”, really it’s toothless and so bland. Eh, aside from some truly unneeded scatology in which we learn that “Bad Luck Land” has a whole subdivision dedicated to canine excrement. Plus we get a long “hold shot” of a drone just grabbed from a sewage treatment plant, looking as though it’s been dipped in Chocolate (oh that it was). And just somehow the main “hero’s objective” is more convoluted than the last two MISSION IMPOSSIBLE flicks (also from Skydance BTW). Oh, the visual look conforms to the generic script, with human characters whose eyes take up two-thirds of their heads leaving them with teeny mouths barely readable. The giant dragon (voiced by Jane Fonda making her animation debut) has an interesting “molded plastic” vinyl toy feel (ready for the merch). However, Bob the Cat is “meh”, along with his voice as Pegg gives out his Scottish brogue from the Trek reboots and makes us think of Shrek. But that’s not the end of the “homages” (more like lifts) as Jeff the Unicorn (voiced by Flula Borg) seems to somehow be a close relation to the bouncing Germanic pig from the SING series (and what’s with the bushy “trash-stash”). The closest the tale has to a “baddie” is Whoopi Goldberg’s “The Captain” who comes off as a mildly annoyed librarian. Here’s a heads up for the talented Mr. Howery: perhaps steer clear of smiling guys wearing name tags as you’re recalling your FREE GUY role. If the film looked interesting it might make the endless 105 minutes seem less of an unending slog as it mercilessly spins its wheels (they’ve got to get another “device”…c’mon). The very smallest viewers may be entranced for a bit by the colors and the animals, but the best bet for adults might be streaming so they can drop “in and out’ of this listless drek. Otherwise, they’ll feel as though they’ve completely run outta’ LUCK.
1/2 Out of 4
LUCK opens in select theatres and streams exclusively on Apple TV+ beginning on Friday, August 5, 2022