August 4, 2022

“Luck” Overcomes the Standard Animation Formula (Review)

In light of recent events concerning Warner Bros. Discovery’s decisions re: HBO Max, I have learned not to take any streaming-only film for granted. If any “exclusive” can be removed at any time, they should be treated as the marvels they are; in truth, it’s a miracle any movie gets made, not to mention fully completed, and respect should be paid regardless of streaming status. This is part of a larger discussion, but just because a movie goes straight to a streaming service doesn’t mean it deserves to be discounted as inferior to theatrical films in any way — in fact, Luck proves that the opposite is true.

Image courtesy of Apple TV+

The first feature film from Skydance Animation, Luck begins on a dour note: extremely unlucky teenager Sam Greenfield (voiced by stage actress Eva Noblezada) is aging out of her foster home, but she doesn’t want to leave before helping Hazel, another girl in the home, find her “forever family.” The only problem is, Sam can’t seem to catch a break, and any help she offers falls flat by default.

Sam’s predicament is what would happen if Dr. Doofenshmirtz from Phineas and Ferb sprayed someone with a “Bad Luck-inator,” as she endures comically poor circumstances nearly every day of her life. A lucky penny leads her to meet talking cat Bob (Shaun of the Dead’s Simon Pegg), who she follows to the extra-dimensional Land of Luck, in charge of supplying the human world with its luck.

Luck purports that good luck is almost exclusively Irish, as most workers in the Land of Luck are either leprechauns or animals with very distinct accents. These are some of the many fun ideas in Luck, which both plays into expectations and keeps it within its kid-friendly aesthetic.

And, per the rules of kids’ movies, everything continues to escalate while following all the traditional story beats. There aren’t many surprises, but there doesn’t need to be — the film functions just fine on its own merits, and has a creative premise that lends itself to delightful meandering, oftentimes devoted to showcasing its concepts.

Essentially, Luck is a charming, if fairly surface level story, the message of which you can see coming from a mile away. It’s important to remember, though, that this is a movie made for children, and this is one of those films that doesn’t fully fit into the all-ages appeal that some animated features have settled into. But the fact of its demographic, like its status as a streaming exclusive, shouldn’t detract from its quality or how the film is perceived.

Image courtesy of Apple TV+

The fact of the matter is that I actually really liked Luck. Its stellar animation and story caliber bode well for Skydance Animation, and Apple TV+ once again proves that they value quality above all else. I think we can all learn something from the character of Sam — even though her luck is constantly rotten, she’s never selfish, and is always looking out for others before herself. That might be par for the course when you consider the run-of-the-mill children’s film protagonist, but it’s refreshing to see regardless, especially when you consider that the next generation is growing up with movies like this.

Luck premieres on Apple TV+ this Friday, August 5.

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