Reel Thoughts: ‘Luck’ is an unlucky animated feature with flashes of unfulfilled potential


Illustration by Olivia Abeyta

“Luck” premieres on Apple TV+ on Friday.

Andrés Buenahora, Reporter

This article contains spoilers.

Eighteen-year-old Sam Greenfield (Eva Noblezada), the unluckiest person alive, is at the helm of Skydance Media’s newest film “Luck,” which premieres on Apple TV+ Friday.

Sam’s keys fall at just the wrong time, in just the wrong sewer vent. Toasters malfunction at her touch. She later displays the innate ability to make cacti stick to her vest at work.

That all changes when she shares her panini with Bob (Simon Pegg), a black cat who insists black cats are actually a good omen in his homeland of Scotland, and discovers Bob’s lucky penny.

With that, the magic of copper takes over and Sam’s fortune changes. Her breakfast toast no longer flips frantically and covers her floor in jam. She no longer finds herself stuck between her wall and her unpredictable Murphy bed. At work, no prickly plants find their way onto her clothes. But as luck would have it (pun intended), the precious coin is lost and Sam returns to being Sam. Translation: more toaster malfunctions.

Sam embarks on a quest to find the lucky penny so she can give it to her friend Hazel (Adelynn Spoon), who’s preparing for a weekend visit with a potential “forever family” (something Sam never had) in hopes she’ll be adopted (something Sam never was).

Her sweetness is undeniably heartwarming, but the film spends more time on the implications of Hazel’s fear about not finding a “forever family” than the reality of Sam’s own feelings about never finding one herself.

Its protagonist’s first instinct is admirably to serve others, and while her pep-in-her-step attitude in the face of misfortune is endearing, Sam’s selflessness limits her character progression.

A portal leads Sam to the Land of Luck, a garish setting where leprechauns, bunnies and a dragon CEO (Jane Fonda) work to manufacture good and bad luck to the human world.

There’s flashes of vibrant world-building, but this animated realm soon turns dull with a cast of creative characters — pigs in punk suits, goblins and trolls shooting arcade hoops and a unicorn named Jeff (Flula Borg) who has a passion for spin classes — that should be interesting but isn’t.

Sam dons a drippy denim jacket whose green color is just enough to convince members of the Land of Luck that she’s a Latvian Leprechaun — despite being roughly 5 feet taller than any leprechaun any of them have ever seen.

The emotional resonance for which studios like Disney and DreamWorks are so brilliantly known falls short with “Luck,” which tries and fails to be a Pixar-esque movie.

While Sam’s insanely unlucky life creates the necessary conflict for the film’s dramatic beats, the lucky penny-chasing expedition takes far too long to actually address the subject of luck itself.

Flashbacks to the orphanage where Sam grew up provide the framework for what could’ve been a much more promising emotional arc, but these moments are few, fleeting and fail to ever be truly unpacked.

The predictable, repetitive nature of “Luck” is redeemed only by its light tone and entertaining performances from Noblezada, Pegg, Fonda and Whoopi Goldberg.

Act 3 shows promise, with scenes that finally display consistent emotion surrounding the nature of the human struggle and hope in the midst of uncertainty.

With a pep talk from Bob — who is revealed to have been an unlucky British feline the entire time — Sam realizes her bad luck may not have been so bad after all.

It’s what brought Hazel, her new cat (she gladly adopts Bob as her own) and those she loves most into her life. Sam realizes her relationships have been altered, for better or worse, by luck.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @andresbuena01

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