The Washington Post

An inauspicio­us beginning for John Lasseter’s new animation studio

- BY MICHAEL O’SULLIVAN

“Luck,” the debut feature from Skydance Animation (whose parent company, Skydance Media, has a proven track record of putting out such live-action blockbuste­rs as “Top Gun: Maverick”), could use a little good fortune. Directed by Peggy Holmes, who helmed the direct-to-video title “The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning” for the now-defunct Disneytoon­s under John Lasseter, it’s also the first project for Lasseter since the “Toy Story” director turned studio boss took Skydance’s reins, amid controvers­y. (Lasseter stepped down from running Pixar and Walt Disney Animation in 2018, after publicly admitting to “missteps” in the wake of accusation­s that he had engaged in unwanted physical contact and commented on employees’ physical appearance. Emma Thompson, who had been attached to work on “Luck,” dropped out over objections to working with Lasseter.)

Set in the titular extraterre­strial dimension in which good luck and misfortune are manufactur­ed and dispensed to humans randomly in a magical, factorylik­e setting by leprechaun­s, rabbits and other creatures associated with prosperity, the new movie conforms broadly to the underlying structure of such Pixar hits as “Inside Out” and “Soul,” in which human emotion and the human spirit, respective­ly, were personifie­d. In other words, “Luck” takes things that are intangible — in this case, random felicity and affliction — and imagines them as palpable. It doesn’t quite work. “Luck’s” protagonis­t, Sam (voice of Eva Noblezada), is a young-adult orphan who, as the film gets underway, is aging out of foster care after failing to find her “forever family.” Chronicall­y unlucky, she leaves behind a small orphaned friend, Hazel (Adelynn Spoon), who Sam hopes will have better, er, luck than she did. But after finding — and then losing — a lucky penny dropped by a talking black cat named Bob (Simon Pegg), Sam follows Bob into a glowing green portal that leads to the world where

happy accidents (and their opposite) are made. It’s here where most of “Luck” takes place, introducin­g us to Whoopi Goldberg’s leprechaun supervisor of the Luck workforce, Jane Fonda’s dragon CEO and a unicorn engineer (Flula Borg) who maintains the flow of bad luck in the mirror-image un

derbelly of this sometimes cruel, sometimes comforting world.

Sam and Bob’s mission, which involves the pursuit of said lucky penny, isn’t terribly clear. It’s also busy and time-consuming, to no real purpose, and without the kind of clever observatio­ns about life or spot-on metaphors about how the world works behind the scenes that made “Inside Out” and “Soul” so entertaini­ng and insightful. Plus, the CGI animation is not especially pleasant to look at, with Sam resembling a lifesize Bratz doll and the other characters, in general, looking like they were produced on a 3D printer. Pardon the pun, but there’s a stiff “Soul”-lessness to the animation.

The dispiritin­g story — written by Kiel Murray (of Pixar’s “Cars”), with Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger (of Dreamworks’s “Kung Fu Panda”) and focusing on luck as if it were a finite commodity — could have had something surprising to say about how you make your own luck. And, while it does offer a lesson about how we are all shaped by what happens to us, good and bad, that isn’t an especially original message. It could have been an auspicious start for Skydance and Lasseter. But is it?

No such luck.

G. At cinemark’s centrevill­e 12 and Fairfax corner 14; also available on Apple TV Plus. contains some poop jokes. 105 minutes.

 ?? APPLE TV Plus ?? Bob (voiced by Simon Pegg) and Sam Greenfield (Eva Noblezada) in “Luck,” the story of a girl who enters a dimension where good luck and misfortune are made and dispensed to humans randomly.
APPLE TV Plus Bob (voiced by Simon Pegg) and Sam Greenfield (Eva Noblezada) in “Luck,” the story of a girl who enters a dimension where good luck and misfortune are made and dispensed to humans randomly.

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