By Liv Dunleavy
I think it is fair to say animated movies have become the new Hallmark Christmas of movie production. They are the new children’s movies trend, with enough produced and pumped out on all streaming platforms in the last five years to last for months of carbon copy, cringey binge watching. It’s hard to find a good one in the midst of all these releases every year.
Netflix has had its fair share of these films over the years. These have been produced and directed by varying levels of notable sources, the most recent produced by Happy Madison Productions, a company founded by none other than the star of our review today, Adam Sandler.
His newest animated film “Leo” tells the tale of a 74-year-old lizard (voiced by Adam Sandler) who has spent his whole life in a fifth-grade classroom, and has recently found out his lifespan is almost at its end. He dreams of escaping to a new life in the real world.
Luck is on his side as the teacher this year is replaced with a stuck-up substitute named Ms. Malkin who’s a real grouch. She starts her year off demanding the kids learn responsibility by taking one of the two class pets home - which is where he plans to make his escape.
The children of the fifth-grade classroom play a large part in Leo’s character development. From the beginning of the movie we are introduced to each student’s quirks and personalities, made clear by Leo’s witty jabs at their obvious problems, such as children who are self-centered, over-protected, snobby, and introverted.
This becomes the root of Leo’s new mission, which is to help these kids get through their fifth-grade year with their new substitute teacher. He does so by speaking to each kid in the class, and gifting them with the knowledge he’s gained from his 74 years as a fifth-grade class pet.
I really liked some of the messages he teaches the kids, and the fact that they take his words to heart, that they learn from him. It is a silly movie, but it is heartwarming and shows some messages that are classic problems kids have growing up.
The animation of the film is pretty standard, although I LOVED the character design of the kindergarteners. They are portrayed as rabid, feral beings with very minimalistic yet hilarious looking faces. They have huge bulbous heads, wide insane-looking eyes, and giant chomping mouths.
The physical attributes are so ridiculous and silly, everytime one showed up I laughed until it hurt. They just look so stupid and they do an amazing job portraying exactly the vibes of real kindergarteners. They behave like wild animals, screaming and climbing all over everything and putting random things in their mouths - classic toddler.
The craziest shock came only one second into the movie, where you learn this movie is a musical! You’d think, “How is that a shock if it’s the first thing to happen in the movie?” Well, if you had watched the “Leo” movie trailer, you might have not been expecting this.
The trailer gives absolutely no indication that this movie is a musical, in the slightest - at all. So imagine my shock with every song that played that solidified this was not a one-time song, that this movie is a musical.
The songs are written and performed well, although a bit cringey, but I believe that is what they were going for. The humor in the movie, mostly coming from Leo, is mostly dry humor, but I think it works. His one-liners are funny and his singing parts in each song are silly, and I laughed consistently through the whole movie.
I watched this movie with my parents, who are both extremely harsh critics of any animated film I show them, and they also laughed at most every joke throughout the film, so to me that is a great accomplishment.
I genuinely recommend this movie to anyone who is looking for something silly to turn on, and turn their own brain off. This movie is perfect for a relaxing, fun night, and you might find yourself singing along!
This lizard is smarter than a fifth-grader