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Review: 'Flora & Ulysses' is an endearing tale of a girl and her superpowered squirrel

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Matilda Lawler as Flora and Alyson Hannigan as Phyllis in Flora & Ulysses, exclusively on Disney+ (Photo: Disney)

Flora & Ulysses
3 .5out of 5 Stars
Director:
Lena Khan
Writer: Brad Copeland, Kate DiCamillo (novel)
Starring: Matilda Lawler, John Kassir, Alyson Hannigan
Genre: Comedy, Adventure
Rated: PG for some mild action and thematic elements

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SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) — Synopsis: Struggling with the separation of her parents, Flora, a self-described 10-year-old cynic, befriends a squirrel who, following an incident involving a robotic vacuum, she believes has superpowers.

Review: Let’s make something perfectly clear. All squirrels, regardless of their abilities, are super. Yes, I’ve met a few squirrels; American squirrels, British and European squirrels. The world is full of squirrels from the mountains near Salt Lake City to New York’s Central Park and on to Glasgow’s Dawsholm Park. Lots of squirrels.

Also, I don’t really know anything about squirrels outside of the videos that costume extraordinaire Riki “Riddle” LeCotey occasionally posts on her Instagram feed. You can’t talk about squirrels without the conversation eventually including Riki. So, there she is.

Flora & Ulysses” is centered on Flora (Matilda Lawler), the daughter of Phyllis (Alyson Hanigan), a successful romance novelist, and George (Ben Schwartz), a comic book writer/illustrator who has yet to catch his big break. Phyllis and George are currently separated. George is working at a local big-box store. Phyllis is suffering from writer’s block. Flora is bewildered, blindsided and generally upset. She wants to believe in the fantasy and magic of the comics she and her father enjoyed. She can’t deny that life feels anything but magical.

When Flora rescues a squirrel from the clutches of a wayward (perhaps even sentient) electronic vacuum, she begins to believe that the experience has somehow transformed a perfectly normal squirrel into a super creature able to do the impossible.

Sometimes a child needs to believe in things that are entirely unrealistic. Sometimes a child needs a magic squirrel.

There’s no question that “Flora & Ulysses” is intended to appeal to children the same age or younger as Flora. Fortunately, unlike many children-focused films, “Flora & Ulysses” is likely to entertain adults, rather than annoy them. There’s more to the film than a flying squirrel. Not much more. Just enough to offer a small life’s lesson between the mayhem of a squirrel trying to figure out what its powers are and a little girl trying to figure out where she fits in the world.

“Flora & Ulysses” is pleasant and more than a little silly. The performances are appropriately goofy without becoming cartoonish. I just don't know about squirrels loving M&Ms. I'll have to ask Riki about that one.


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