Tuesday 12 December 2023

REVIEW: Leo (2023 American Film) - Starring Adam Sandler

Review by Jon Donnis
Directed by the trio of Robert Marianetti, Robert Smigel, and David Wachtenheim, "Leo" is a 2023 American animated musical comedy that marks the second animated venture from Adam Sandler's production company, Happy Madison Productions. Starring Sandler in the titular role, the film unfolds an endearing story set in a fifth-grade classroom at Fort Myers Elementary School.

The plot kicks off when Leo the tuatara, voiced by Sandler, overhears his expected lifespan and is struck by the realization that time is running out for him to achieve his dream of visiting The Everglades. The narrative takes a twist with the arrival of Ms. Malkin, the strict substitute teacher, setting the stage for Leo's adventures and the challenges faced by the fifth-grade class.

One of the film's strengths lies in its animation quality, which is slick and visually engaging. The character designs are appealing, and the vibrant colours contribute to the overall lively atmosphere. The catchy songs add another layer of entertainment, enhancing the film's musical aspect.

The voice cast, led by Adam Sandler, delivers a commendable performance. Sandler's portrayal of Leo is charismatic and endearing, anchoring the emotional core of the film. The supporting cast, including Bill Burr as Squirtle and Cecily Strong as Ms. Malkin, contributes to the film's success with their strong voice work.

The storyline strikes a commendable balance between satire and sweetness, offering a well-written smart comedy that manages to be both humorous and heartfelt. The narrative explores themes of friendship, redemption, and the impact of kindness on others, making it a relatable and enjoyable experience for audiences of all ages.

However, the film does have its shortcomings. Some unnecessary sexual jokes and adult humor may be deemed inappropriate for the intended child audience. Additionally, while the singing is generally good, there are moments where it falls short, slightly detracting from the overall musical experience.

In conclusion, "Leo" earns a fair and honest score of 7.5 out of 10. The film's slick animation, catchy songs, strong voice cast, and well-crafted balance of satire and sweetness contribute to its success. While a few hiccups in the form of inappropriate humor and uneven singing exist, they do not overshadow the overall charm and originality of the storyline. "Leo" stands as an entertaining animated feature with heart, humor, and a valuable lesson about looking out for one another.

Out now in select cinemas and on Neflix.