Back in 1983, I was a big fan of the song “Lucky Star” by a new singer named Madonna. After seeing the first Skydance Animation release, “Luck”, I never want to listen to the song again, as the film has a definite over-dependence on the Material Girl’s fist big hit.
Written by Kiel Murray, Jonathan Aibel, and Glenn Berger and directed by Peggy Holmes, the animated film is a noble effort but tedious in its presentation and much too obvious (and never deep enough) regarding its emotions.
18-year-old Sam (voiced by Eva Noblezada with the delivery of a character from an awful Disney Channel show) is burdened with horribly bad luck. Frankly, the screenplay makes her nothing more than a big klutz, negating the entire good luck/bad luck premise right from the start. Never having found her “forever family”, she must leave her orphanage and start life on her own with a new job and apartment.
A chance encounter with a magical cat named Bob (entertainingly voiced by Simon Pegg) leads her to the “Land of Luck”, the secret world where planet Earth’s good luck is created. The two must track down Bob’s lucky penny, which Sam lost. The adventure begins… or tries to.
The film loses visual interest immediately, as the animation isn’t anything spectacular. The whole film takes on the quality of a well-drawn video game. Even the design of the Land of Luck fails to impress. There is no visual flair given to the picture, rendering the supposed eye candy completely flat.
As Sam and Bob move through this magical world, the John Lasseter-produced film feels more joyless from moment to moment until the final 45 or so minutes become a chore to sit through. While we should let this film (try to) stand on its own, with Lasseter’s involvement, one can’t help but miss the spectacle of animation and emotion found within the films of Pixar.
The whole film feels half-baked, as if the screenwriters felt they could squeak by on the good graces of making their lead an orphan trying to help another find a family, an arc that is never properly explored. A nice sentiment to be sure, but give the audience something for their hearts to invest in beyond surface level grade school emotion.
Oscar winners Whoopi Goldberg and Jane Fonda show up as a leprechaun and dragon, respectively, but the screenplay finds nothing interesting for them to do. Goldberg is Goldberg and Fonda is Fonda. The lifeless lines they are forced to perform give them nothing to work with, leading to a sad waste of two giant talents.
With most of the voice cast producing nothing memorable, Simon Pegg does walk away with the few laughs this film elicits. Still, his grumpy attitude and Scottish accent was done before (and better) by Mike Myers in the “Shrek” films. To be fair, Myers had the stronger scripts.
It pains me to give a negative review to an inherently sweet film with a positive message, but the workmanlike execution and pedestrian screenplay force my hand.
While the film wants to speak to the younger viewers, the messages are often convoluted, and the film runs on too long for its undercooked plot.
Not much works in “Luck”. While the first pairing between Apple and Skydance is not a terrible failure, it never finds the magic that makes many successful animated films shine.
It seems bad luck has stolen the one ingredient this film was lacking. Imagination.
Written by Kiel Murray, Jonathan Aibel, & Glenn Berger
Directed by Peggy Holmes
Starring Eva Noblezeda, Simon Pegg, Whoopie Goldberg, Jane Fonda
G, 105 Minutes, Skydance Animation/ Apple Original Films/ Paramount Pictures