Superheroes come in all shapes and sizes and seem to appear when you need them. This superhero just happens to be small and fluffy. Flora & Ulysses on Disney+ is the uplifting family movie we all need, and it's streaming now.
Flora & Ulysses Review
Every superhero comes to us with a purpose, you don’t always see it at first, because we don’t always know where to look –Flora
We loved this movie. It's a beautiful coming of age story. Warming, heartfelt, well-done, well-cast, and Matilda Lawler shines as 10-year-old Flora. As a whole, this is a fantastic family movie that will make you laugh and maybe even cry a little.
As a comic fan, Flora's character is super-relatable. I loved comics growing up. My youngest, who is 13, also loves comics and would prefer anything comic or graphic novel-related to read over any other genre, and has since she was old enough to read anything on her own.
From the first time I saw the trailer with Marvel characters like Captain Marvel and Ms. Marvel and the squirrel nailing the superhero landing, I was interested.
Fast forward to the opening of Flora & Ulysses with a comic shot of the Silver Surfer and Wolverine, and I knew I was hooked for the next 94 minutes of imaginative fun.
Flora is a self-proclaimed comic fan, in part, because her father is a writer, and comics is one of the genres he writes. Littered with funny jokes for both kids and adults, lots of comic references, and this movie is great for both the kids and the adults. And while comics are an integral theme throughout, you certainly don't have to be a comic lover by any means to appreciate the sentiment of Flora & Ulysses and doing the small things in our day-to-day lives to make things better and help uplift others.
Flora's parents are separated and she lives with her mother Phyllis, a neurotic, lollipop-sucking writer trying to finish a book on a deadline. Flora befriends a squirrel she saved from a lawn care robot with the brand name Ulysses, thus the name she gives her new CGI squirrel friend.
As you can imagine, a 10-year old girl and her pseudo-superhero squirrel friend are bound to wreak havoc and create chaos and messes wherever they go. Flora & Ulysses is just that, with beautiful messages of cooperation, having grace, patience, and caring for others.
What Doesn't Work With Flora & Ulysses
While this section is labeled what doesn't work, I'll caveat that it's not so much what doesn't work in general, but rather what doesn't work if you are familiar with the book by Kate DiCamillo. If you expect an exact movie version of the novel “Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures,” you'll be disappointed.
Yes, I know that books are often quite different from their screenplay counterparts. However, one of the significant differences between the novel and the movie is that the ending of the movie somewhat implies that Flora's parents get back together. In the book, the couple is divorced. While some people wouldn't necessarily care about this detail, as a movie intended for kids, that detail could be triggering for kids who are dealing with parents who are going through separation or divorce.
The ability of the characters in the book to come together as a family in the face of adversity despite no longer being a nuclear family is one of the beautiful messages in the book. That message is somewhat watered down if the parents get back together.
While the movie shouldn't focus too heavily on William and his trauma-induced hysterical blindness, it felt very glossed over and deserved a bit more attention. Even if you don't know the novel, it could be helpful to have a little bit more of an understanding as to why William had to leave his home. He basically got kicked out for hurting his stepdad's truck. His loss of sight is an allegory for what he is feeling: he's blind to the world around him when he's in a dark, empty space emotionally. It's only once he starts to deal with his mother's betrayal that he begins to see again in the book, which is, in part, thanks to becoming friends with Flora.
Matilda Lawler as Flora in Flora and Ulysses, exclusively on Disney+.
Is Flora & Ulysses Safe For Kids?
Rated PG for some mild action and thematic elements, Flora & Ulysses is generally safe for kids. While clearly a movie geared toward kids, adults will love it, too. In fact, I watched it without any of my kids the first time through and loved it.
If you are familiar with the novel, you may be concerned with Phyllis's smoking. Rest assured, Disney has taken care to ensure that there is no smoking in the movie version of Flora & Ulysses. Lollipops are Phyllis's favorite oral vice in Flora & Ulysses.
As far as violence, parents can also set their minds at ease knowing that there isn't any gore in Flora & Ulysses. While there is minimal cat violence related to some of the scenes with Miller, the Animal Control Officer, but it's cartoon-style violence. No one really gets hurt.
Watch the Flora & Ulysses Trailer
About Flora & Ulysses
Disney's Flora & Ulysses is a delightful comedy-adventure based on the Newbery Award-winning book about 10-year old Flora, an avid comic book fan and a self-avowed cynic, whose parents have recently separated. After rescuing a squirrel she names Ulysses, Flora is amazed to discover he possesses unique superhero powers which take them on an adventure of humorous complications that ultimately change Flora's life—and her outlook—forever.
Flora & Ulysses stars Matilda Lawler, Alyson Hannigan, Ben Schwartz, Anna Deavere Smith, Danny Pudi, Benjamin Evans Ainsworth, Janeane Garofolo, and Kate McCucci. It was directed by Lena Khan and produced by Gil Netter. Based on the novel “Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures” by Kate DiCamillo, the film's screenplay is by Brad Copeland. Katterli Frauenfelder and James Powers served as executive producers.
FLORA & ULYSSES is streaming exclusively on Disney+ starting February 19th.
Check out our other film reviews.