“Luck” is directed by Peggy Holmes, whose resume, which includes four other directorial credits, has mostly consisted of Disney content. This film stars Eva Noblezada (Yellow Rose, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit), Simon Pegg (Mission: Impossible – Fallout, Run Fatboy Run), Jane Fonda (Grace and Frankie, Klute), Whoopi Goldberg (The View, The Lion King), Flula Borg (Pitch Perfect 2, The Suicide Squad), Lil Rel Howrey (Uncle Drew, Free Guy), Colin O’Donoghue (Once Upon a Time, The Right Stuff), and John Ratzenberger (Cheers, Toy Story). This film follows a girl named Sam who suffers from one unlucky incident after the next. After one particular case of bad luck, she finds herself in a universe where good and bad luck collide to determine the fates of everyone on earth.
Many protagonists have a case for being down on their luck for one reason or another. But this is a case where the protagonist suffers from one incident after another after another after another in just a short amount of time. It’s the whole down on one’s luck thing, but it’s wildly consistent here. Some might say that luck is not cinematic. But after watching Domino in “Deadpool 2,” I think that’s a falsehood. So I was looking forward to whether the movie “Luck” could be the latest charm (haha) from Hollywood. As for the movie itself, was it worth the watch?
Not exactly. The good news is, as far as the studio is concerned, specifically Skydance Animation, this is their first film. Founded by David Ellison and led by former Pixar vet John Lasseter, “Luck” is the first film in the studio’s slate, and they do have more coming like “Spellbound,” which has a stacked voice cast ranging from Rachel Zegler (West Side Story), Nicole Kidman (The Northman), and even John Lithgow (Interstellar). Maybe their second outing will be better. But for now, let’s focus on the mediocre first outing. But hey, they can only go up!
Again, I like the concept of the movie. I love how one person could be this unlucky all the time and a story can be made out of it. In fact, as far as the protagonist goes, being unlucky is not all about the little things. This movie establishes that the main character, Sam, grew up as a foster kid. At the end of the day, she was never able to find her real family. But at some point, she found herself on her own. She started a new job, she started school, she started living in her own apartment. Sam had a plan and she was sticking by it. So I do admire that the film is not just saying that the main character is unlucky every other second and just going with it. Bad luck is literally intertwined as a core foundation of Sam’s backstory, her growing up.
Sam is voiced by the amazingly talented Eva Noblezada. For the loyal followers who remember the 3rd Annual Jackoff Awards, which honored 2020’s cinematic calendar, I bestowed Noblezada with the win for Best Actress for her brilliant performance in the music-centric film “Yellow Rose.” It makes sense that she would be in a movie like this, as her character does sing and she not only has a history of singing originals in “Yellow Rose,” but she was also in the Broadway play “Hadestown,” so she has range of being on and off-screen. I was excited to see what she could do in a voiceover role. I thought Noblezada had a cute presence and fit the character in every way. I also sort of related to her character. I mean, who wouldn’t? I am pretty sure everyone has had that one day in their life. That one day where anything that could go wrong, actually does.
I also like some of the supporting characters in the film. Simon Pegg plays Bob, a black cat who happens to be Sam’s sidekick for most of the film. I thought he brought some personality to the table. Jane Fonda was a great choice to play Dragon, a character that could literally sniff out bad luck. I thought she was larger than life and lively to say the least. As for the real world, there is one character named Hazel that is presented of highest importance. Not only is she well written from a story perspective, notably through her bond with the protagonist, but I think her respective actress, Adelynn Spoon delivered a cute performance that garnered my attention from early on. Overall, the voicework in this film is top notch. Also, unlike the recent “DC League of Superpets,” despite this movie having some big names, I was never distracted. I never felt like I was listening to someone such as Whoopi Goldberg, who happens to portray the character of Captain, play herself.
While I will reiterate that I am not a massive fan of the film and do not intend to watch it again, I think one of the main highlights is a scene from the first five or so minutes where Sam is going through her morning routine. She’s making breakfast, she’s showering, doing everything she needs to get ready to start her day. But this plays into the whole bad luck trend that has been large part of her life. This lends to some of the funniest visual comedy I have seen recently. I think animation often lends itself to some great humor. And this year is no different when it comes to films in that genre like “Turning Red.” While “Luck” may not be as enjoyable as that film, it is a film that like “Turning Red,” can guarantee a laugh out of me for something I see on screen.
As for the music in the film, I think the musical score by John Debney (The Orville, Iron Man 2) is quite impressive and fits the scope of the film. In fact the scope is quite large given the eventual enormity of the protagonist. I also want to talk about the use of the Madonna song Lucky Star. While it may intertwine with the luck theme this movie has going for it, I think its use comes off as nonsensical, and I kind of cringed when it happened. But that is because of how the song is used from a story and script perspective. I am sure that if the song were simply used as an end credits piece, I would have appreciated it more, but it was used as an out of nowhere device to move the story forward. It is almost lazy. Eva Noblezada sang the piece and she did an okay job, but I just feel like its insertion was either through writer’s block or as a joke to cater to adults who knew the song or children that need visuals to lighten the moment. This movie does not have enough lyric-based songs to sell a soundtrack, so I cannot say that is what the writers were going for.
I also feel incredibly conflicted by the ending. Sure, there are things that happen in the end that add up and feel in place. There is even one moment in the end that made me genuinely happy. But I also feel like how we got to a certain point almost felt forced. It is almost kind of cringeworthy. I get why what happened actually happened, but how we got there almost feels nonsensical. Maybe it drives home the lesson of the film for families and children, but even so, it just feels odd watching it. I almost did not buy what I was seeing on screen. This might sound weird, but this is just from my experience. Despite just about everything making sense, the final moments of the film nevertheless became slightly convoluted. I was not angry, I was not disappointed, I was just a little bewildered and questioning whether the protagonist would actually do what she did. I do not know. Maybe if I watch the film a second time I would feel different. But again, the movie is not worthy enough of a second watch, so that is probably going to remain a mystery.
In the end, “Luck” is rather unlucky. The protagonist is perfectly established, some of the supporting characters are fun, and I never found myself outright angry at this film unlike say the recent “Paws of Fury.” Although if you have children and are looking for an animated movie to watch together, there are better options out there. In fact, this movie is on Apple TV+. If you want a great animated movie to watch on the service, I highly recommend checking out “Wolfwalkers.” It is a 2D animated film about a girl who can suddenly transform into a wolf and ends up befriending someone just like her. It is wonderful, it has emotional beats, it is quite imaginative to say the least. This is not to say that “Luck” is not imaginative. I will be frank, I like the concept of having a universe that controls good and bad luck on our planet. I just wish it were done better. There are some good things about “Luck,” but when the ending came into play, I just found myself nearly indifferent about what I just watched. Maybe you will not feel the same, but I have no plans to watch “Luck” again. And that stinks, because I want to see more from Eva Noblezada, but I hope she does something better than this. I am going to give “Luck” a 5/10.
Also, before I move on, I want to address something I was curious about in regard to the movie ever since I saw the trailer. This is a screenshot I took on YouTube. As a Bay Stater, I need to ask everyone who made “Luck” a simple question. Is this movie secretly set in Boston? Look at license plate on the city bus and tell me that is not a Massachusetts license plate! I know it does not say Massachusetts, but look at the thing!
“Luck” is now streaming on Apple TV+. While it did release in theaters in August, there are showtimes listed online and the film will be coming back to several markets starting Thursday, September 22nd. If you want to see the film in theaters, get your tickets now.
Thanks for reading this review! I want to remind everyone once again that this October, I will be doing a Steven Spielberg Month in honor of his brand new film, “The Fabelmans.” In preparation, I will be reviewing “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “E.T. The Extra Terrestrial,” “The Post,” and “West Side Story,” so stay tuned for that! If you want to see more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Luck?” What did you think about it? Also, did you ever have a day where everything just went wrong no matter the case? Tell me about it! I would not mind hearing all about it! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!