As audience prepare to check out the first feature film from Skydance Animation when the folkloric musical-fantasy Luck on Apple TV+ tomorrow (Friday, August 5), critics have been assessing this freshman effort from both ends of the karmic scale. Teetering on a 48% Tomatometer on Rotten Tomatoes (33 reviews) and a 51 MetaScore on MetaCritic (14 reviews), the movie seems to be fulfilling its own moral: You have to take the bad luck with the good.
Sam Greenfield (Eva Noblezada) considers herself the unluckiest person in the world. When she stumbles into the never-before-seen Land of Luck, Sam sets out on a quest to bring some good luck home for her best friend. But with humans not allowed, her only chance is teaming up with the magical creatures who live there to do it.
With ex-Pixar head John Lasseter producing and a creative team made up of Disney and Pixar veterans (including Secret of the Wings director Peggy Holmes at the helm and Raya and the Last Dragon writer Kiel Murray delivering the script), Luck has inevitably drawn comparisons to the studio’s award-winning films. Critics also noted some derivative nods to Studio Ghibli titles like Kiki’s Delivery Service and The Cat Returns. However, Luck did score points with some reviewers for its technical achievement and design, as well as for strong performances by voice stars Noblezada, Jane Fonda and Whoopi Goldberg.
Here’s what the critcs are saying:
“Luck is the kind of hopeful, detailed tale Pixar would release, but this is not a product of the animation behemoth — not really. It’s the brainchild of Skydance Animation, which hired Pixar co-founder and controversy-mired John Lasseter in 2019 … [Luck] possesses some of the same world-building vividness as Monsters, Inc. and Inside Out — Pixar projects that capture the mood and atmosphere of never seen, or imagined, worlds.”
— Lovia Gyarkye, The Hollywood Reporter
“I don’t believe in luck, but I do believe that Luck — the first feature-length toon from David Ellison-backed Skydance Animation — represents a force for good in the world. It’s not easy developing both a pipeline and a project that could compete with the Disneys and DreamWorks out there … While the new studio’s debut can’t touch Toy Story, it’s an auspicious start for a talented group of storytellers … Your mileage may vary. Luck, as they say, is what you make it.”
— Peter Debruge, Variety
“Despite having an emotional arc that becomes evident within its first few minutes, Luck registers as original enough conceptually to maintain one’s interest … Although Luck can’t reach the sophistication level of the best Pixar features, it stands as a far more accomplished effort from a technical standpoint and in the resonance of its story than the dime-a-dozen, talking-animal cash cows infested with vapid pop-culture references that have become the new standard in Hollywood animated releases.”
— Carlos Aguilar, The Wrap
“Luck is like if someone watched the Studio Ghibli film The Cat Returns and thought, ‘What if we Monsters, Inc.-ed it, and threw in the premise of the Lindsay Lohan rom-com Just My Luck just for the hell of it?’ … Luck might be a fun time if it weren’t so clearly reminiscent of other, better movies. But apart from some genuinely stunning visuals (the design of the Land of Luck in particular is a beautiful piece of retro-futurism with a fantasy twist), Luck can’t help but feeling like a Ghibli film processed through a Pixar formula.”
— Hoai-Tran Bui, Slashfilm
“Possibly the biggest surprise to Luck is just how generic and uninspired it feels, despite how many ideas are crammed into this story. There’s no wonder, no excitement, no jokes that land — and while Skydance probably thought they had their own good fortune in locking down the disgraced Lasseter post-Disney, it seems as though his involvement only mucked up what could’ve been a charming story.”
— Ross Bonaime, Collider
“Everything about this robotically made movie looks derivative and contrived; the videogame aesthetic is dull and the quirky high concept plays like a pound-shop knockoff of Inside Out and Soul … Luck’s script is utterly zingless and contorted; it fails to imagine what the ‘bad luck’ half of this secret universe looks like and ties itself in theological knots trying to explain the purpose of bad luck. The target audience deserves better.”
— Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian