DISCLAIMER: This review pertains solely to the film as a product. John Lasseter’s indiscretions are not ones we take lightly. Screen Speck denounces violence of any kind. Any unwanted physical contact is despicable and should not be tolerated.
Can you imagine being the unluckiest person in the world? How would that make you feel? It’s easy to become frustrated when things don’t go our way, but Apple TV’s Luck reminds us to look at the possibilities and the opportunities that often surface when things don’t quite go as planned.
The film follows the story of Sam Greenfield (Eva Noblezada), who truly is the unluckiest person in the world. Suddenly finding herself in the never-before-seen Land of Luck, she must unite with the magical creatures there, including Bob (Simon Pegg), a lucky black cat, to turn her luck around.
More urgently, Sam is now 18 years old, meaning she’s grown out of the foster care system and must now live on her own with only her bad luck to keep her company. But the best part of Sam is her big heart. She looks out for young Hazel, who is sort of like a little sister to her seeing as they were both at the same orphanage. Hazel is close to being adopted, and Sam wants to make sure this happens for her young friend. And Sam is still filled with desire to find her own forever family; since it’s something that, sadly, didn’t happen for her, Sam doesn’t want Hazel to suffer the same fate.
One night, after she shares a panini with what seems like your average stray cat, Sam comes across a lucky penny. It changes her life entirely. So Sam sets out, determined to get this penny to Hazel…but, of course, she loses it. After another run-in with Bob the black cat, Sam follows him to the Land of Luck in search of more lucky pennies. Chaos ensues.
Despite its good intentions, Luck fails to catch a break. The film spends most of its time focusing on its elaborate (and quite frankly delicious) world-building over its character work, in both a physical and internal sense. While the character designs are appealing, at times their animation feels unfinished. If we’re going to get technical, much of it has to do with the rigging of the individuals. And while this is something viewers can often overlook, it can also be quite distracting. The characters’ smiles look awkward; often, their mouths don’t match their speech. Maybe we have grown spoiled in this new age of CGI animation. Regardless, Luck comes off as rushed. The rough edges are especially noticeable when the grandeur of the Land of Luck overshadows the character designs and their movement.
Further on, the plot is bloated. It often feels as though we’re sitting through a continuing set of obstacles added to the story simply for the sake of conflict. Luck does give us very brief moments where characters experience a change of heart or face something that genuinely challenges themselves. Ultimately, though, these glimpses at the movie that might have been leave Luck feeling hollow.
While Luck has technical and script issues I couldn’t ignore, director Peggy Holmes and the cast craft something sweet and tender. At the center of it all, we’re faced with a story that forces us to look at the bigger picture of our lives. When circumstances seem dire or downright depressing, it’s important that we take a step back and remember that the bad moments are what lead to where we’re supposed to be. While it would be wonderful to only have good luck, it’s because of our mishaps that we learn to appreciate our own lucky moments.
That being said, this moral isn’t something we haven’t seen before. Plenty of other films have taught the same thing; one standout that comes to mind is Pixar’s Inside Out. Without sadness, how can we appreciate joy? Without the consequences of bad luck, how can we truly understand when something is lucky?
There is some good in Skydance Animation’s feature, but Luck‘s biggest problem is its lack of passion. While the message is cute – and necessary for young viewers to understand and learn – that message doesn’t distinguish itself from the crowd of similar movies that already tried their luck at teaching the same lesson.
Luck is available to stream exclusively on Apple TV+.