Luck (G, 105mins) Directed by Peggy Holmes **½
Infamous as the project that Emma Thompson walked out on after she objected to the controversial John Lasseter being hired by Skydance Animation, this fun, but forgettable family flick never quite manages to escape the spectre of the latter’s former employers.
It’s hard not to watch this look at the “hidden corporation” that “controls” our good luck and misfortune without it bringing back memories of similarly-themed Pixar tales like Monsters, Inc. or Soul.
Early, admittedly poignant scenes, also try very hard to evoke the spirit of both Up and Inside Out, with their tugging of audiences emotional heartstrings, but, once the focus shifts from our world to the “land of luck”, it all descends into something of a convoluted, contrived and confusing mess.
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At its heart, Luck is the story of Sam Greenfield (Eva Noblezada). Convinced she is cursed because she never managed to find a forever family, the 18-year-old is now finally leaving the Summerland Home for Girls to start a new life in her own place.
After losing her initial set of keys down a grate, her first day of employment at Flowers & More is preceded by a battle with the toaster, a fruitless search for matching socks and a bathroom door nightmare. Still, she manages to make her shift on-time – just – to the delight of boss Marv (Lil Rel Howery).
“You may be the best decision I ever made,” he enthuses, but that’s before every task he hands her ends in disaster.
Deflated, but not defeated, Sam soaks up the neighbourhood atmosphere with a curbside panini and encounters a curious black cat. Offering to share her meal, it devours its portion, leaving behind a shiny penny in its wake.
When, the next morning, even her bread lands jam side up, Sam begins to wonder if the coin might have magical properties that may have finally changed her luck.
The euphoria doesn’t last long – a toileting mishap resulting in her hopes being literally flushed away. Thus begins a desperate search to locate the mysterious ebony feline. When she eventually does though, nothing can prepare Sam for what she has accidentally uncovered.
With bright, crisp animation, a vocal cast that includes Simon Pegg, Jane Fonda and Whoopi Goldberg and a likeably goofy and genuinely sparky central character, Luck does have quite a few things going for it. However, there’s just an overwhelming sense of déjà vu and trying too hard to emulate the trademark Pixar formula.
Not only does it have the patented mix of slapstick and sweetness, poignancy and pratfalls, showcasing the misadventures of a disparate duo, but there’s even a cameo from Lasseter’s “lucky charm” John Ratzenberger. The luck-creating porcines look suspiciously similar to Sing’s Gunther (complete with gold lame wardrobe), while his Germanic lilt appears to have been co-opted by a flowing-maned unicorn.
Director Peggy Holmes (whose previous work includes a Little Mermaid prequel and two Tinker Bell tales) and the trio of writers never truly seem in control of either their narrative, or their message, which comes out as something like “things don’t always go as planned – so be prepared”.
Luck is now available to stream on Apple TV+.