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Flora And Ulysses: A Fun Film About Nice People Dealing With a Superhero Squirrel

February 18, 2021
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Quick thoughts: Adapted from the 2013 children’s novel written by Kate DiCamillo and illustrated by K.G. Campbell, Flora & Ulysses is a super nice film about a superhero squirrel who helps a family come back together, and realize their dreams.

The latest Disney+ release Flora & Ulysses will most certainly be a pleasant distraction for families and individuals looking for something optimistic and fun. The story revolves around a 10-year old self-proclaimed cynic named Flora Buckman (a very likable Matilda Lawler), bringing a squirrel back to life after it was sucked up in a runaway vacuum cleaner (AKA a super Roomba). As the squirrel comes back to life, it acquires superpowers, and it’s up to the comic book loving 10-year old to protect Ulysses before it can be killed by her mother Phyliss (Alyson Hannigan) or caught (and killed) by a deranged animal control officer named Miller (Dani Pudi). On top of keeping the squirrel safe, she also has to deal with her sad-sack father George (Ben Schwartz) who has split from Phyliss, and given up on his dreams of writing comic books. Throw in a visiting kid named William (Benjamin Evan Ainsworth), who suffers from hysterical blindness, and is very good at absorbing short falls, and you have a cheeky comedy filled with likable and offbeat characters.

What makes Flora & Ulysses work so well are the offbeat performances from Lawler, Hannigan, Schwartz and Pudi. They know exactly what movie they are in, and they seem to have a great time playing super nice people going through PG-rated dilemmas. There’s a relaxed vibe to the film, and that’s a compliment to director Lena Khan (The Tiger Hunter), and writer Brad Copeland (Ferdinand, Spied in Disguise), who know exactly what the material is, and give the viewer copious shots of cute squirrel shenanigans (that’s pretty much what sold the movie for me). It’s true that the plot is kiddie-pool deep, and the reason why Phyliss and George split is a bit fuzzy, but despite these shortcomings, the film still works really well. The visual effects by VFX company Framestore, and Visual Effects Supervisor Nicolas Chevallier are excellent, as they’ve given Ulysses a fun personality and believable movements.

Flora & Ulysses is a charming and relaxed family film that will most certainly give people what they want for 95 minutes. If you’re looking for a cute squirrel, easily resolved familial issues, and a kid who jokes about being able to withstand small falls with zero injuries, you will love Flora & Ulysses.

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