Wed. May 29th, 2024

‘Leo’ English movie review: Adam Sandler is an astute lizard in this surprisingly sweet, feel-good comedy

By Sampad May1,2024

And the streak of Adam Sandler delivering simple, heart-warming yet predominantly funny films continues! Earlier this year, he was a part of Netflix’s You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah which starred his daughter as the lead along with his entire family. He’s not only back with Netflix for his next, but teams up with his usual collaborator Robert Smigel and co for a neat little animated feature titled Leo.

Sandler’s comedy films usually portray him as a juvenile and simpleton character who learns a valuable lesson that he uses to overcome an obstacle. While his childish humour might not sit well with critics who’ve rarely been kind to his work (except for titles like Happy Gilmore, The Wedding Singer and last year’s Uncut Gems), the common audience has lapped it up, and Leo is simply an extension of what has worked well for the star.

In Leo, he voice-stars as an old and wise lizard who, along with Squirtle the turtle (voiced by Bill Burr), are a couple of class pets in a fifth-grade classroom. Learning this his species’ lifespan is around 75 years, and in a hilarious series of montages to calculate that he’s currently 74, Leo wants to escape captivity and explore the world before he kicks the bucket. But when a new substitute teacher (Cecily Strong) asks students to take a pet to their homes for a weekend, the kids learn that Leo can talk. With each of them having their own problems that are not just unique to their age but also to today’s digital age, it’s up to Leo to apply his years of experience and help them, and in due course, realise that the kids need him more than he needs to tour the world.

Leo (English)

Directors: Robert Marianetti, Robert Smigel, David Wachtenheim

Cast: Adam Sandler, Bill Burr, Cecily Strong

Storyline: A school pet who wants to explore the world puts that idea behind him and turns therapist for the sake of his school students 

Runtime: 102 minutes

If You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah focused on early teen school kids and featured Sandler as a secondary character, Leo stars Sandler as the lead, and he does that with panache. Right from advising a child whose parents are going through a divorce to dealing with a school bully who is curious to know how kids are made, Leo turns in a child therapist. But the film never aims too high; this works majorly in its favour as it never offers world-changing advice, but resorts to simpler solutions that works with the younger audience. In fact, it’s Squirtle who handles the baby-making question by telling the kid that his mother must have laid eggs on a beach.

Leo is also a musical, but that’s not one of its strengths; the third act featuring some unnecessary character development also doesn’t hit the mark. But that doesn’t take away the fact that it’s a well-animated entertainer which surreptitiously shares the need for children to open up instead of just keeping their problems to themselves.

Also Read | I’m not great at anything new: Adam Sandler

But the biggest pillar of support for why Leo is a fun watch, unsurprisingly, is its assortment of jokes that work with varying degrees of effectiveness. The running gag of its portrayal of kindergarteners is the best example. Adding to that is a healthy dose of pop-culture references; from Leo being thrown onto a table filled with Lego buildings making him look like Godzilla terrorising a town, to his actual name being Leonardo, but him preferring Leo because it’s “less ninja turtle-y”. Speaking of turtles, Squirtle the turtle is a not-so-subtle Pokemon reference! With a few adult jokes to charm the elders, Leo is a surprisingly sweet, feel-good film overall; here’s to hoping the Sandler streak continues.

Leo is currently streaming on Netflix

By Sampad

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