Luck

Luck ★★★½

The first animated film released by Skydance, new home for disgraced Pixar creator John Lasseter, is all about the titular concept of luck, good and bad, that of the Irish, finding pennies, dragons who are, black cats who aren't, they really put this thematic nucleus through the ringer. Pretty inevitable topic for a child-oriented animated movie: it's broad and made-up like a lot of things kids are interested in, but reflects a lot about one's outlook on life, which animated films are always trying to refine. They probably could've devised a more stripped-down, universal fantasy premise to filter it through for more memorable results, but the elaborate world-building "Luck" commits to instead, just an endless supply of rules and tiers and processes and playground-like sets and R&D labs and different species of magical figures operating within them is frankly an impressive show of imagination. A cynic might call it needlessly convoluted, like why leprechauns and dragons and bunnies and unicorns co-existing as a blue collar work force that actively controls from a separate universe how luck filters into the human world?

But it's one of those matters you don't need to question. Like how is Willy Wonka basically supernatural? No one ever criticizes that movie for defying reality without a user's manual. I mention Wonka specifically because one of the fun things about "Luck" is exploring the facets of this industrial kingdom place, which looks like a cross between a bright, bustling, childlike Mario game setting and Wonka's chocolate factory full of whimsically strange rooms each intended for one silly purpose or another, for the viewer to keep discovering as the movie rolls on. Most people are going to dismiss this movie as an inferior Pixar wannabe, and it is openly chasing that studio's same highs in a similar fashion without the sheer grace and ingenuity of their best work, but this isn't some crap knock-off with nothing to show for itself. It generates a great deal of comedic and emotional material from its title, has a luminous color palette, features an automatically irresistible cat sidekick voiced with plum Irish brogue by Simon Pegg, and borrows the beautiful gray-area wisdom of "Inside Out" in teaching a lesson about the necessity of negativity as a balance in the universe (aka that bad luck and good luck are yin and yang in life).

The main girl's easy to like, the adventure sags a bit from pacing in its second act but rebounds eventually and never lacks for gleeful little creative extra touches in any given scene, the animation at first seems a little second-rate but that's not to say it isn't attractive and inviting regardless, and all in all I think this is going to be an underrated movie. You can see all the formula gears working, but this totally could have been a Pixar movie (Lasseter even poached his good luck charm John Ratzenberger), and even if I'd *only* rate it 3.5 stars, that's still on par with one of 2022's actual Pixar films ("Turning Red") and even better than the other one ("Lightyear").

*trigger warning: there are some scenes designed to characterize her unlucky nature by showing a million unlucky things happening to her all at once in her daily life, and it's funny and relatable but also cripplingly stressful if you think about it too much. What an exhausting life she must lead. I'd rather die than live for even 5 minutes the way she does. *cue plucky orchestral suite*

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