Luck review – pound-shop Pixar is a short straw for young audiences

This robotically made animated tale leads a young woman to a secret world that will surprise no one

Another dismal, algorithmically produced digital animation here, evidently the first off the production line from a new US-Spanish company, Skydance Animation, which has the former Pixar chief John Lasseter as its creative head. Everything about this robotically made movie looks derivative and contrived; the videogame aesthetic is dull and the quirky high concept plays like a pound-shop knockoff of Inside Out and Soul.

Sam (voiced by Eva Noblezada) is an 18-year-old kid who has grown up in a quaintly imagined orphanage-slash-girls’-home in an identikit US city. She has been plagued by bad luck all her life, not merely in being an orphan (the backstory there is primly never mentioned) but in tiny little things such as bumping into objects and losing her keys – although this micro-level bad luck could also be called klutziness. Just as she is moving out into her own apartment with a job (I guess no question of higher education), Sam becomes sadly preoccupied with a little kid in the home who is poignantly failing to get a foster family, just as she herself failed to. If only Sam could somehow give her a piece of good luck.

Then Sam chances across a black cat in the street, and finds a lucky penny on the pavement; her luck changes, and she realises that this cat, called Bob (voiced by Simon Pegg) can speak – in a Mike Myers Shrek Scottish accent. And this adorable cat lives in the top half of a secret world where planet Earth’s good luck is manufactured: the bottom half, darker and gloomier, is where the bad luck is. Sam finds her way to this boring non-Oz and comes across many unfunny and uninspired characters, including lucky Irish leprechauns; it seems some stereotypes can be OK.

Luck’s script is utterly zingless and contorted; it fails to imagine what the “bad luck” half of this secret universe looks like and ties itself in theological knots trying to explain the purpose of bad luck. The target audience deserves better.

• Luck is released on 5 August in cinemas and on Apple TV+.


Peter Bradshaw

The GuardianTramp

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