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Up-and-coming streamer Apple TV+ has high hopes happiness, the first animated film in her collaboration with Pixar founder John Lasseter – who left the company amid a cloud of controversy – and his new studio, Skydance Animation. Whatever baggage Lasseter brings with him, he has also managed to bring with him much of his former employer’s charm and creativity. happiness could easily pass as a Pixar film with heart and humor. But does it live up to the promise of its pedigree?


The essentials: Sam Greenfield (voiced by Eva Noblezada) is about as unlucky as they come. It seems like nothing can go right for this 18 year old girl, and happiness loves getting some visual jabs at her expense. Sam may have outgrown the foster system, but her heart still remains with sweet young Hazel (voiced by Adelynn Spoon). She wants nothing more than to transfer her little bit of happiness to help Hazel find her forever family, but she gets a little more than she bargained for after picking up a “lucky penny” that has a portal to a world above them opens our human. Here the forces of good and bad luck operate through a series of intricate processes that ingeniously depict our human experience of the phenomenon. Along with black cat Bob (voiced by Simon Pegg), Sam must navigate the many layers of this unknown world in order to secure some happiness in Hazel’s adoption.

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Which movies will it remind you of?: The entire film seems geared towards bottling that Pixar magic, so if you find yourself having a little déjà vu… that’s very much on purpose. For example, the emotional score recalls High and the adventure of rescuing a child in need has strong repercussions Find Nemo vibrations. But more than anything happiness is incredibly committed to the ingenuity and imagination of Pixar from the inside to the outside. I guess this film wouldn’t even have been possible if Pete Docter’s groundbreaking work hadn’t shown that a family film can take concepts as abstract as “emotion” and creatively conceptualize them in a way that makes sense for young viewers. He owes a lot to him for all of the funny, clever ways the film turns happiness into tangible things from the inside to the outside.

Notable performance: The quick-witted Simon Pegg, long the MVP and most reliable laugh in the franchise ranges from star trek to Impossible Mission is really on his A-game in happiness. He sort of gets the job, dials the Scottish accent down to an 11, and is down for all the fun of the film. Not only does it serve as a handy guide to navigating the uncharted realms of exploration happinessPegg serves as a key emotional anchor for the film.

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Memorable dialogue: Especially as happiness nearing its end, it has many good quotes about the value of good and bad luck. These lines hit the sweet spot of being relevant and applicable without feeling like something you’d see on a motivational poster in a middle school classroom. “It’s one of the perks of bad luck,” says Rootie of veteran Pixar voice talent John Ratzenberger, “It teaches you to spin.” The film offers no shortage of helpful aphorisms that can teach young viewers what’s how misfortune and cosmic punishment feels to reinterpret.

gender and skin: This is about as squeaky clean and family friendly as they come, so better luck next time you’re looking for something like that.

Our opinion: It will become clear pretty early on happiness that this is a Pixar knockoff, not the real McCoy. For example, it probably won’t make you cry, but you’d probably have to be adamant not to get a little bleary-eyed here. But that distinction is likely lost on younger viewers – the film’s target audience – and is only noteworthy for the generation that grew up watching these original computer-animated classics. While the imaginative worlds the film conjures up can get a little too clever and involved for their own good, there is at least some comfort in sitting back with something that actually respects its viewers with such thoughtfulness. There’s enough of a goofy, sincere leadthrough in there happiness also staying connected through some of the more boring plot mechanics and inventions. While there’s nothing overly flashy here, there’s at least very little that triggers eye-rolling.

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Our appeal: Stream it. happiness family fun is done right, even if it tends towards the lower end of the age spectrum in its appeal. It’s original enough in both concept and execution to make some of its more predictable developments seem fresher than they are. And any film that can help us see the world through different eyes, to understand that good and bad luck is often what we make of it, is a valuable lesson for viewers of all ages.

Marshall Shaffer is a New York-based freelance film journalist. Besides Decider, his work has also appeared on Slashfilm, Slant, Little White Lies and many other media. One day everyone will realize how right they are Spring breakers.

watch happiness on AppleTV+