One day, whilst sitting on the phone in my bedroom, I looked up to witness a squirrel staring me down like he had a gun holster willing to take me down at any given moment. He and his entire family have been torturing me ever since. Comical, sad, but true. But, at my core, I still see them as furry, funny superheroes ready to take on the world with one single scale of a wall. Kinda with the fearlessness I used to see with my furry boyfriend aka pet Maltese, who absolutely detested squirrels.
But, Flora & Ulysses has made me see these little dudes with a new pair of glasses that are by no stretch of the imagination rose-colored. Based on the beloved children’s book (of the same name) from Kate DiCamillo, Flora & Ulysses is a charmingly, hilarious tale of a young girl, who after saving severely injured squirrel from impending death, becomes his biggest advocate. He becomes the secret weapon that bring her family together in ways they didn’t even realize still existed..
Adapted for the screen by Brad Copeland and directed by the fantabulous Lena Khan, this film has whip smart dialogue, tugs the heartstrings in just the right spots, making this a movie we didn’t know we needed until now. From the first moment, their lives intersect, you know right away that these two will become inseparable paving the way for journey of love, acceptance, understanding coupled with absence of judgement. Matilda Lawler is a star. After beating out nearly 1000 other young girls for the part, she has a commanding presence, with spot on acerbic comedy timing that I haven’t seen the likes of since Tatum O’ Neal in Paper Moon. She owns every second, which is perfectly complimented by her on screen parents Alyson Hannigan (a writer having a major block moment and Ben Schwartz (the Dad every kid wish they had). Dani Pudi (Miller) is the perfect villain sans handle bar mustache makings fall for his every trick in the book knowing fool well the outcome will not bode well on his behalf. It was nice to see aa person of color in this type of role for once rather than the usual suspects. Casting kudos to Emily Schweber on gathering the perfect blend of personalities and talent to make for the most enjoyable film I have seen in 2021.
In a year filled with so much loss, heartache and pain, my heart felt hope and joy for the first time in months. Thanks to Lena Khan’s direction, which stays on the straight and narrow of the book (with a few tweaks here and there), Flora & Ulysses will delight audiences young and old, hopefully leaving all with something a little more positive to go into their day with.