MOVIE REVIEW: Flora & Ulysses - A Superhero Movie With Heart
If there is one thing Marvel's Squirrel Girl has taught me is don't count out a story about a superhero squirrel. And, that's how we begin our look at Flora & Ulysses, a new film on Disney+.
Based on the Newberry Award-winning children’s book by Kate DiCamillo, the film stars Matilda Lawler as Flora. She is cynical about the world and lost her love of superheroes because of her family breakup. You see, her father George (Ben Schwartz) sadly failed at getting his comic book published, ending in the dissolution of his marriage to romance writer Phyllis (Alyson Hannigan), who is suffering from writer's block. Flora's life changes when she rescues a squirrel from an accident. She names him Ulysses and starts to discover that he has all kinds of abilities, not to mention his penchant for typing poetry. There is also a boy named William Spiver (Benjamin Evan Ainsworth) who is "hysterically" blind due to an altercation with his step father. It turns out that all these characters need is a superhero squirrel to help resolve their problems.
Flora & Ulysses could have easily become a cloyingly saccharine children's story, but thanks to the adept hands of director Lena Khan and writer Brad Copeland, we got a genuinely funny movie with heart. It reminds me of another Disney+ movie, The One And Only Ivan, which took a ridiculous concept and made it fun and meaningful.
I like how they created an archnemesis for Ulysses in the over zealous animal control officer played by Danny Pudi. Every superhero needs his villain and Pudi played the character with comedic grace. Although, it does get kind of dark when he starts shooting George full of tranquilizer darts almost leading to his death. But, I guess, what villain doesn't get a little dark.
I liked how Disney has FINALLY used Marvel in its Disney properties. I know there are some contractual agreements about where and when Disney can use the Marvel characters, so I thought it was refreshing to see them in this movie.
By the way, did anybody know this was also a DuckTales reunion as the movie starred the voices of Huey, Dewey, Louie and my favorite Webby Vanderquack?!?
Anyway, in a world where you have an abundance of movies about little boys and their super [insert word - toy, alien, transforming robot] that we get this refreshing tale about a little girl and her super squirrel. Now, if only I can get my Squirrel Girl movie finally!
Flora & Ulysses is now streaming on Disney+.