Thursday, August 04, 2022

Luck, on Apple TV+

They say luck favors the prepared mind, but not in Sam Greenfield’s case. She learns bad luck is supposed to be random. Yet, bad luck attracts more bad luck, so once she had it, she couldn’t shake it. She gets this first-hand lesson in luck when she plays Dorothy or Alice (your preference) after falling into the land it comes from in Peggy Holmes’ Luck, produced by Skydance Animation, which premieres tomorrow on Apple TV+.

Greenfield is finally getting her own place, because she aged-out of the orphanage. The young woman just always had bad luck with her family visits. She accepts her lot, but does not want the same unlucky fate to befall Hazel, the young fellow orphan she took under her klutzy wing. After splitting a panini with a black cat, Greenfield discovers a lucky penny that seems to turn her fortunes around. She is sure it will do the same for Hazel, but true to form, she accidentally flushes it down the toilet. That rather distresses Bob the cat, who comes back looking for it.

It turns out, he was issued that penny in the Land of Luck, where Greenfield ends up too, after following him through the portal. Reluctantly, Bob agrees to help her locate another penny for Hazel to use on her next family visit, before he uses it to replace the one he lost. Of course, the grown-up sized Greenfield stands out in the land of leprechauns, rabbits, and unicorns. It should be noted Bob claims black cats are lucky in Scotland, which a quick googling seems to bear out. Unfortunately, Bob’s bossy boss, The Captain soon discovers somebody passed off a button as a lucky penny—and she would be delighted to blame him.

has a good deal of charm and the colorful Land of Good Luck is quite snazzy looking. It is sort of like a fantastical Rube Goldberg-esque Metropolis. Like in Fritz Lang’s dystopia, the privileged lucky live in the skies above, while the proletarian Goblins and Roots live below in the Land of Bad Luck. There is definitely an Oz-like aspect to the story, but the hard luck blue collar monsters turn out to be more fun.

Eva Noblezada brings a lot of energy and warmth to Greenfield’s voice, but the character is so virtuous, she gets a little dull. However, Bob is entertainingly roguish character, with a smartly conceived backstory and appropriately cat-like foibles. Simon Pegg is the perfect vocal match for him, crisply landing all his snarky lines.

Notably, Jane Fonda supplies the voice of The Dragon, who is the benevolent ruler of the Land of Good Luck, even though the previously canceled John Lasseter now oversees Skydance’s animation division and is clearly credited as a producer. This would be an interesting fact to keep in mind should she ever make provocative comments about “cancel culture.” However, fans of Lasseter’s Pixar blockbusters will be happy to hear John Ratzenberger once again has a colorful supporting vocal role, as Rootie, the bartender in the Bad Luck juice bar.

Luck posits a land of secular fantasy to impose some sense of higher systematic order on the world, but it avoids explicitly woke themes and content. In fact, it arguably celebrates the social positives of adoption. It seems entirely harmless and often quite sweet. Recommended for animation fans and family viewing, Luck premieres this Friday (8/5) in theaters and on Apple TV+.