What’s your favorite superhero origin story?
Did you say, “squirrel who gets sucked inside a vacuum cleaner, receives CPR from a 10-year-old, and suddenly gains superpowers?”
The Flora-Ulysses dynamic duo might not be your first thought when you think of superheroes. But Flora & Ulysses on Disney+ is a movie the whole family can enjoy.
The story of Flora & Ulysses really combines two major dreams for kids: having a cuddly pet/animal sidekick, and getting superpowers. And a cuddly animal sidekick WITH superpowers? Come on, that’s basically mindblowing.
Admittedly, Ulysses displays powers a little more sparingly than one might like. I wouldn’t have minded a few more super-moments, like at the end. (More on that in a minute.) But the powers display is constantly balanced by the squirrel antics – mostly, trying to get food. Which yeah, seems like a pretty good use of newfound superpowers to me.
The Flora-Ulysses dynamic is sweet. Though Flora (Matilda Lawler) is a self-described cynic, it’s clear she’s got more hope for the world than she thinks. Even when she doesn’t believe in the world, she believes in her dad (Ben Schwartz), a comic book artist whose creations never really took flight. Alyson Hannigan also lends her love and comedy chops to the family dynamic as Flora’s mother. (Who is of the camp why is there a squirrel in my house?, which makes her pretty relatable, too.)
All the actors lean into the physical comedy and goofiness of this one. There are plenty of antics chasing CGI animals around and getting into scuffles. The stakes here are small – Ulysses isn’t trying to save the world – but that works, containing the caper to just one family adventure. Somehow, that makes it more real.
The big family get-together to save Ulysses at the end works emotionally (and serves as a callback to superhero team-ups). However, it’s also where the plot wears the thinnest: why doesn’t Ulysses use his superpowers to escape?
Oh well. You’re not here for logic. You’re here to see a squirrel do the superhero pose.
While the goofy adventure will keep kids laughing, parents can get an extra kick out of all the pop culture references built into the movie. Plenty of superhero stuff, sure, but also look out for references to DuckTales, Buffy, Titanic, and more.
Flora & Ulysses: The Bottom Line
There are some missed opportunities to make Ulysses’ powers more prominent. But in essence, Flora & Ulysses is a fun family flick with laughs and heart. The goofy antics will keep kids amused, while parents can entertain themselves spotting all the other pop-culture easter eggs that pop up. It’s a cute movie great for a casual watch.
Flora & Ulysses streams exclusively on Disney+ starting February 19.