“Flora and Ulysses” is the latest superhero film to hit Disney+. Based on the book by Kate DiCamillo, the film follows the cynical young girl Flora. Her world gets turned upside down after a chance meeting with a super-powered squirrel.
Naming the squirrel Ulysses, he challenges Flora’s worldview, maybe not being the hero she imagined, but the hero she needs.
The Flawed but Delightful Buckman Family
“Flora and Ulysses” stars actress, Matilda Lawler as Flora Buckman. Flora is a longtime comic book fan who falls into a cynical mindset due to her parents’ impending divorce. Don’t let her young age fool you, as Lawler gives a stellar performance. She nails both the emotional and comedic scenes, especially when alongside Ulysses.
Alyson Hannigan of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “How I Met Your Mother” plays Phyllis Buckman. Phyllis is a romance writer who is struggling to start her next novel. Hannigan brings her warmness and comedic presence from her previous work to portray a mother who is just trying her best.
Ben Schwartz of “Parks and Recreation” fame plays George Buckman. Schwartz is a comic book writer who gets down on his luck after failing to publish his latest superhero creation. Schwartz portrays a loving but awkward father, leading to some funny moments where you kind of feel pity for him.
At the beginning of the film, the Buckman family is in a rough state. With divorce on the horizon for Flora’s parents, the Buckmans are in dire need of a rescue. Luckily, a nutty hero answers their call.
Ulysses Steals the Show
The titular squirrel steals every scene he appears in. Not only does Ulysses get into some hilarious situations, but he is also downright adorable. He is always hungry and happy to see Flora.
Both make for a heartwarming duo. Ulysses’ CGI (since getting a real squirrel to do a superhero landing is as hard as it sounds) is also well done, bringing Ulysses’ powers to life.
Comic Books Galore
With Flora and her father being superhero fanatics, “Flora and Ulysses” contains many comic book references and easter eggs for viewers to geek out over.
Disney takes full advantage of its Marvel ownership, injecting Marvel heroes into an awesome intro sequence. Throughout the film, comic book style drawings and panels are utilized for clever scene transitions.
“Flora and Ulysses” also features many original superheroes of George Buckman’s creation. While the CGI of these superheroes aren’t as good as Ulysses, it is still cool to see George’s superhero visions come to life.
Relevant Themes and Messages for Today’s World
“Flora and Ulysses” may seem like a silly film about a super-powered squirrel, but under the surface lies the inspiring themes of hope and love.
When the film starts, Flora and her family have abandoned all hope. A once-loving family is on its last leg. Ulysses acts as a catalyst for change in their lives, putting the Buckmans on a personal journey to guide them back to one another.
In today’s crazy world where it is easy to lose hope, “Flora and Ulysses” relays a relevant message to viewers that even at one’s lowest point, nothing is ever gone; what is lost can always be found.
From start to finish, “Flora and Ulysses” will make viewers laugh out loud while pulling at their heartstrings. While some jokes can come off as cheesy or awkward, they are still funny, and the cast plays them off well.
The action sequences get sillier as the film progresses, resulting in plenty of hijinx from Ulysses and the Buckmans. Right when viewers think a scene has calmed down, Ulysses or another character swoops in to cause more of a commotion.
Contributing to the humor, Danny Pudi of “Community” fame plays the antagonistic Animal Control officer Miller. Pudi gets put through the wringer in this film, being attacked by cats, squirrels, and other animals, all making great physical comedy on Pudi’s end.
In the film, Flora mentions that all superheroes come with a purpose. Perhaps the purpose of “Flora and Ulysses” is to provide hope and laughter. Luckily, the film succeeds in both departments, making it perfect for a feel-good family movie night for all ages.
“Flora and Ulysses” premieres Feb. 19, 2021, on Disney+.