The world of animated movies is, more often than not, dominated by Disney and Pixar, and for good reason – they make some of the best movies in the genre and very rarely miss. But, with its new family movie Luck, streaming service Apple TV Plus has delivered what we consider to be its own version of the Pixar movie Inside Out, with wonderful worldbuilding, strong character work, and emotionally-charged storytelling.
The kids movie stars the vocal talents of Simon Pegg, Eva Noblezada, Flula Borg, Jane Fonda, and Whoopi Goldberg, among others. It’s a tale of fate and fantasy, bridging the world of mankind with the Land of Luck, a magical place where an array of creatures handle good luck and bad luck to keep our world spinning.
We had the pleasure of chatting to the director of Luck, Peggy Holmes as part of a roundtable event attended by other journalists to discuss the themes of her new movie and her approach to storytelling in an animated setting.
To compare any movie to Inside Out is a bold statement, with the 2015 Pixar hit receiving widespread acclaim upon its release, most notably for its handling of rather mature thematic elements. Luck trusts its audience to engage with similarly challenging notions, with a focus on young adults in the care system.
Narratively speaking, Luck and Inside Out are rather different then, but the manner in which both movies approach worldbuilding is equally impressive on both sides. Just like the headquarters of the various feelings in Inside Out, Luck offers a vivid and engaging environment for its characters to thrive in; a secret world untouched by mankind.
“I mean, listen, I love Inside Out. That’s not a bad comparison at all,” Holmes mused. “It was super fun to figure out what humans didn’t know was, there’s this land of luck out here and to get inside that world and create a place where that luck can be created within the story.”
“We had an amazing development department that did a lot of work around the international icons for good and bad luck, you know, characters, colours, numbers, and we pitched all that to Fred Warner, our production designer,” Holmes continued. “The very first piece of artwork he did was two worlds that mirrored each other, sitting on the opposite sides of a coin.”
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Clearly, the concept of crafting a striking setting was always a key priority for Holmes and the team. That is just one ingredient for a great movie though, and a key aspect of Luck is its approach to comedy that works for adults and children alike.
“We committed to this idea that we need to learn about this character through her physical life. And we just like held hands and said, ‘Okay, we’re going for physical comedy,'” Holmes explained. “So we work with the story team and we basically put [Sam] in her apartment, in her place of work, and all the things you would normally do in your everyday life, and just created lots and lots of gags from there.”
Despite Luck’s commitment to comedy, there is a surprising level of emotion running through the narrative, which juxtaposes effectively with the fantastical backdrop. For Holmes, it was all about balance, and trusting her instincts when it came to portraying such a delicate story.
“Our writer, Kiel Murray, and myself met with these incredible young adults who had grown up in the foster care system, just like our protagonist, Sam,” Holmes said. “They shared their stories with us and they were the most positive, hopeful, generous, young adults – we were so moved by them, and for us, it was really important that we honoured the integrity of those feelings.”
“You find that emotional core, and then you put it into a world that you’ve never seen before, where you can be super entertained, too,” she added. “So we just put those two things together, a deep emotional core in an entertaining world.”
Holmes’ past work as a dancer and choreographer serve her well when it comes to animation, and ultimately led to the filmmaker working with Disney on properties such as The Little Mermaid, Peter Pan, and Mickey himself. To move from that, to dealing with a completely original story, offered the director a very different, but equally satisfying challenge.
“It was super fun to do something original. There were two things that were part of this story when I came on board. One was the fact that Sam was in foster care, and the other was there was a leprechaun,” Holmes recalled. “I looked at the material, and I thought, okay, Sam’s in foster care, we could create this really emotional story where she finds family.”
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“And I thought, wait a minute, what if I take this idea of a leprechaun and blow it up and create a whole magical world where leprechauns and other magical creatures exist, so that it becomes a real fantasy journey story with a really strong emotional heart,” she added. “To create an original piece and create original characters, it’s a really special, fun, scary, exciting thing to do.”
Luck will be available to Apple TV Plus subscribers on August 5, 2022.