While Disney‘s dominance in the arena of animated films has never been in question, plenty of competition continues to arise. Perhaps the most surprising distributor to enter the space appears to be Apple TV+, which already released the brilliant Wolfwalkers in 2020. Not only has Apple invested in picking up titles from Cartoon Saloon and a bevy of Peanuts-related content, but they found a home for Skydance Animation. Skydance became the landing spot for John Lasseter after his ousting from Disney for inappropriate contact with female employees. The man behind Toy Story and Pixar may want to build another great animation house, but with films like Luck, the studio will fail to compete. Directed by Peggy Holmes and representing the first film in studio history, Luck fails to connect beyond its very basic plot.
For the 18-year-old Sam (Eva Noblezada), life has always been unlucky. She finally seems to have friends at the Girl’s Home where she was raised, only to be told she must leave the home. While Social Services sets her up with an apartment, she struggles in her job and personal life. While trying to help her friend Hazel avoid a similar fate, Sam meets a talking black cat named Bob (Simon Pegg). Bob accidentally brings Sam to the world of good luck, where Sam believes she can change Hazel’s fortunes for good.
The straightforward premise of Luck never pushes the viewer to interrogate life beyond the story on screen. To be clear, this is not often a concern for straight children’s animation. Films like Despicable Me, Shrek, and Sing get by on these ideas. However, the difference in animation quality becomes a quick concern for Luck, especially because they struggle with character design for their main character. The humans throughout Luck seem genuinely out of place in the world they inhabit.
Perhaps what makes the struggling animation stick out are the stronger voice performances that are on display. Noblezada brings life to her character, but the animation rarely matches the levels of excitement or disappointment in her voice. The cat animation on Bob makes him the one character that seems to make his vocal and visual dynamics. The cast, which includes Whoopi Goldberg, Jane Fonda, and John Ratzenberger may actually be too interesting as vocal performers.
At the same time, the film fits into a similar, mid-tier animation mold. The animation and general tenor of the film does not stray far from the Over the Moon or Vivo style. For families looking to put on enjoyable animated films, featuring good vocal performances and strong lessons for their kids, they could do much worse. There are some cute character designs, and a simple, but far from irritating song in the narrative. Families will certainly find more value in this than the typical moviegoer, which should help. However, taking cues from Inside Out and Monsters Inc. will make it impossible for some viewers to overlook the Pixar comparisons.
While Luck struggles beyond basic storytelling, it is still too early to tell what is in store for Skydance Animation. There’s enough here to like for children. Apple seems poised to keep funneling money into the partnership. However, they’ll have to step up from this disappointing first impression.
Alan’s Rating: 5/10