Disney-Pixar’s John Lasseter returns with ‘Luck’, the year’s worst animated film

It’s always an exciting moment when a new animation studio releases its first feature film. It can tell us what the studio is capable of and what we can expect from it in the future. Disney, for example, has continued to build on its legacy Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs; Pixar brought us computer-generated animation toy story; and Illumination created a legitimate cultural shift by unleashing little yellow minions Despicable Me.

happiness, now on Apple TV+, is the first film from Skydance Animation. Skydance strives to make a huge impact in the animated world by bringing eight-time Oscar winner and composer Alan Menken and on board The Incredibles and Ratatouille Director Brad Bird to work on future projects. There’s some serious pedigree here, and as marketing for happiness tells us the film comes from “the creative visionary behind it toy story and cars. (One of these things isn’t like the other, but I digress.)

That means specifically happiness is produced by John Lasseter – the man often credited with being behind some of the most popular animated films of all time while he was chief creative officer at Disney and Pixar.

Why would you leave the largest animation studio in the world to become Head of Animation at a completely unknown company, you might ask? That’s a good question, and an important one. Lasseter has not so much embraced a new and exciting opportunity as that his unfortunate actions at his previous company forced his exit. In 2017, he took a leave of absence from Disney, which became a permanent departure in June 2018. Both he and the company pointed to his “missteps,” a cute (and rather crude) way of coming to terms with his tainted legacy of sexual harassment, as the reason for his exit.

Defense attorneys are quick to cite Lasseter’s legacy of incredible films when declaring their continued support for him. But those films didn’t make work any less of a toxic, miserable experience for him, according to some of his former colleagues. Lasseter’s reputation as an obvious genius waned and he became known for “reaching, kissing, [and] Making comments about physical characteristics” in relation to his female colleagues. Animation at the scale of Disney and Pixar is a highly collaborative experience, and when the person at the top of the chain is toxic, it spreads like a virus to the rest of the system.

People have argued for and against the separation of art and artist from what feels like the beginning, and unfortunate people doing great work are unfortunately nothing new. It becomes especially hard to ignore when these very people, after being exposed for their actions, are offered convenient new powerful jobs. Lasseter is not the first – and likely won’t be the last – powerful white man to make a comeback and remain in a position of power thanks to his talents.

Curiously, these supposed gifts are nowhere to be found happiness. While Lasseter isn’t credited with directing or writing the film, he is a producer, and everything prior to release suggests he played a big part in its making happiness. Rest assured that even if you’ve never heard of John Lasseter and tune in without a single preconceived notion, happiness is no less an absolute disaster. A pale imitation of better films, it’s a dull, paper-thin slumberfest that turns its moderate running time into an endurance test.

The film follows Sam (voiced by Eva Noblezada) who is perhaps the unhappiest person alive. Sam is like the opposite of Midas, where everything she touches seems doomed. She spent her childhood longing for a family of her own while spending the days in the orphanage only to have her dreams never come true. Now that she’s old enough to live on her own, Sam is desperate to help others – especially her young friend Hazel (Adelynn Spoon), who hopes to have a forever family of her own. After a chance encounter with a black cat, it looks like Sam’s fate is about to change.

After following the cat through the city streets, Sam is shocked to discover that she speaks English. Not only did it speak, but the cat opened a mysterious portal. With nothing to lose, Sam jumps through, which takes her to the Land of Fortune, a mystical place responsible for the happiness of the entire world. It turns out the cat’s real name is Bob (Simon Pegg), and he may be able to help Sam turn the tide – not just for her, but for Hazel as well.

To do this, Bob and Sam must work together and navigate the land of happiness. Such an amazing place will be filled with endless creativity, fun characters and vibrant colors. The Land of Happiness has lots of lush greenery (because, you know, the luck of the Irish), the exterior views are a delight, and the unnecessarily convoluted mechanisms in place for travel are amusing. But the looks rarely impress, often feeling like a rip-off of better designs. Take a look at the land of happiness and it will remind you of Riley’s brain from the inside to the outside— minus the pathos or creativity of this Pixar film. Worse, the interiors, where most of the film is set, are oddly corporate, unimaginative spaces that reflect the story itself.


Happiness’s biggest disadvantage lies in the storytelling. So little happens in this flimsy adventure. Going from place to place in search of a lucky penny, Sam and Bob cause some trouble along the way (because remember Sam is unlucky) and eventually work together to put things right and restore balance to the Land of Fortune . It’s incredibly familiar territory for children and adults alike, and the script offers absolutely nothing that could cause any unexpected surprises. Devoid of any intrigue or novelty, the film ultimately becomes a total chore to get through.

When the storyline lacks big, family-friendly animation, imaginative character designs and wacky quips are often used to fill the gap. Nothing of the sort can be found here. The best kind of set piece happiness Offers is an uninspired, misplaced pop music number that was boring when it first appeared at the beginning of the film and downright excruciating when the same song returns later. There are no plots and no real motivations other than the incredibly general story that tops that happiness teems again and again. I doubt the film would even catch a child’s attention since happiness looks like a two-bit imitation of better animated movies.

The characters, the beating heart of any animated classic, are generic and lifeless. Like the graphics, they often feel like disappointing impersonations of characters from other, better films. Flocks of Bunnies are lifeless, ugly wannabe minions; Bob’s fur looks painted on like a victim of the uncanny valley; and the dragon (Jane Freaking Fonda) resembles a less memorable version of the dragon Shrek.

There is something deeply hollow at its core happiness. It feels like a movie on autopilot, hoping that a few pretty colors and serious language work will be enough to distract from a hopeless script, muddy pacing, uninspiring characters and a moral that’s been told endlessly, and any of them is better than this .

If Skydance banked on staving off bad publicity by Lasseter getting his supposed “creative visionary” to do it happiness and start a hit, it was a terrible bet. If this film is any indication, Lasseter is completely out of ideas. Instead, it contributed to the worst film of his career — and is an all-time favorite for worst animated film of 2022.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/disney-pixars-john-lasseter-returns-with-luck-the-years-worst-animated-movie?source=articles&via=rss Disney-Pixar’s John Lasseter returns with ‘Luck’, the year’s worst animated film


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