Review by Rich Cline | 3.5/5

dir Peggy Holmes
scr Kiel Murray
prd John Lasseter, David Eisenmann, Dana Goldberg, David Ellison
voices Eva Noblezada, Simon Pegg, Jane Fonda, Whoopi Goldberg, Flula Borg, Lil Rel Howery, Adelynn Spoon, Colin O'Donoghue, John Ratzenberger, Grey DeLisle, Kwaku Fortune, Fred Tatasciore
release US/UK 5.Aug.22
22/US Apple 1h45

pegg fonda goldberg

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Bob and Sam, and the bunnies
Set in a fantasy world that exists alongside ours, this brightly colourful adventure comedy has the distinct deeper sensibilities of producer John Lasseter, who founded Pixar. While it feels lightweight, the movie is thoroughly charming, packed with witty gags and whizzy action, populated with likeably snappy characters and several deliberately adorable touches (merchandising alert!). It's also engaging enough to keep us entertained and leave us with a smile.
Absurdly unlucky but tenaciously optimistic, 18-year-old Sam (Noblezada) is sad to leave the other orphans in her group home, especially cheeky young Hazel (Spoon). But she moves out on her own, gets a job in a shop and begins her university studies. Then everything changes when she meets a talking black cat named Bob (Pegg) and follows him through a portal to the Land of Luck. Sam wants to get a lucky penny to help Hazel find her forever family, but this will require sneaking past the Captain (Goldberg) and bravely confronting the Dragon (Fonda).
While Sam's mission is overcomplicated by crystals, drones, clovers, stones, bunnies and glittery dust, the script has fun with ideas of what humans see as lucky and unlucky, including how it never seems random. Travelling from Good Luck to its reverse-gravity counterpart Bad Luck provides the film with some edgier thrills that Sam handles with intrepid quick-thinking. Colourful side characters include Bob's up-for-it leprechaun pal Gerry (O'Donoghue) and the hilariously camp, lovelorn unicorn Jeff (Borg).

The movie's broad faux-Irishness involves more than a few wobbly accents, and it also means that Good Luck shimmers in bright green. Meanwhile, Bad Luck is purple, populated by goblins and goats, and rather a lot more fun. The animators have a great time deploying their design skills to create these outrageously busy worlds, sprinkling witty details throughout every scene while livening everything up with nutty character moments that blend inventive imagery with expressive voice performances from a cast of scene-stealers.

There are quite a few pointed themes woven into the story, some of them subtle and others plainly spoken. Despite the narrative, the idea that it's impossible to search for luck is a strong one. As is a lesson about how bad luck offers opportunities to think laterally. Of course, at its core this is a tale about learning to overcome fear, and to find people who are always there for you. So while most viewers, especially younger ones, will enjoy the vibrantly hued adventure, there are deeper ideas that get under the skin.

cert pg themes, mild violence 5.Aug.22

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© 2022 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall