By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs
I must admit that I laughed much more than expected while watching the Disney+ family dramedy, “Flora & Ulysses.”
It’s a clever, cute, and fun little movie from director Lena Khan (“The Tiger Hunter”) that’s based on Kate DiCamillo’s 2013 best-selling novel of the same name.
Apparently, superheroes don’t always wear capes or even talk for that matter. They can also be a bit “squirrely” too.
No one knows this better than 10-year-old Flora Buckman (Matilda Lawler, TV’s “Evil”), a spunky and adventurous kid who spends a lot of time alone. Not that she wants to, but because her parents are getting divorced and are consumed with their careers and don’t spend much time with her.
Flora’s mother Phyllis (Alyson Hannigan, TV’s “Outmatched”) is a romance-novelist trying to get her groove back and write her next bestseller. Flora’s dad George (Ben Schwartz, TV’s “DuckTales”) is an unsuccessful comic book creator of Incandesto a superhero character that only Flora seemed to care about. Now, George works part-time in an Office Max type store, with hopes of someday getting back and doing what he really loves.
It’s no wonder that Flora has a vivid imagination and love of all things magical and comic book related. Oh, and since this is a Disney movie, it’s no surprise that there are plenty of nods to Marvel Comics and Star Wars.
“Flora & Ulysses” unfolds when a vacuum cleaner sucks up a squirrel and Flora is horrified by what happens and rescues the little critter. She even gives him mouth to mouth resuscitation to bring him back to life.
Flora knows right away there’s something special about this squirrel. She decides to name him Ulysses and keep him as a pet in her room without her animal allergic mother knowing.
Ulysses soon begins showing some amazing behavior. For starters he likes comic books and can read, write poems, and can even type on Flora’s mother antique typewriter.
Wait, there’s more.
So much more that Ulysses—although well-intentioned—becomes a nuisance in the house. He rummages for food and is especially fond of M&M’s, but he’s a messy squirrel and trashes the place.
Ulysses attracts attention from an Animal Control officer (Danny Pudi, TV’s “DuckTales”) who despises squirrels.
Much of the slapstick humor revolves around him trying to capture Ulysses but getting outsmarted at every turn by him and even attacked by a vicious neighborhood cat.
Adding to the mayhem is a blind English kid (Benjamin Evan Ainsworth, TV’s “The Haunting of Bly Manor”) who wants to help Flora save Ulysses.
Is it possible that Ulysses can bring Flora and her mom and dad together, restore their careers and perhaps help them be a family again?
Well, never underestimate a superhero squirrel or a Disney movie that knows how to push all the right kiddie buttons and incorporates songs from Bill Withers, Tom Jones, and OK Go as part of its soundtrack.
“Flora and Ulysses” is pure silly, family fun and should be another big hit for Disney.
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Watch This Trailer For "FLORA & ULYSSES"
Lana K. Wilson-Combs is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), The Black Film Critics Circle (BFCC) and a Nominating Committee Voting Member for the NAACP Image Awards.