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The time has come for Disney+ to finally release another fun-filled family adventure, this time starring none other than Sonic the Hedgehog’s Ben Schwartz and How I Met Your Mother’s Alyson Hannigan, along with relative newcomer Matilda Lawler. The new movie Flora & Ulysses is based on the popular children’s novel by Kate DiCamillo and will be another live action venture from the House of Mouse. Now, we are finally getting an idea of what that will look like with the first trailer for the film.
As you can see, Matilda Lawler’s Flora is a young girl who loves comics and adventure. So when a squirrel who seems to have certain powers ends up in her midst, the two end up being a very good team, helping Flora to navigate the waters of complicated familial relationships. With an animal control employee (played by Danny Pudi) on Ulysses' furry tail, the two are about to go on an unforgettable adventure.
Why Flora & Ulysses Is Heading To Disney+
While some flicks like Mulan and Artemis Fowl were created for the big screen and later pushed to Disney+, Flora & Ulysses is unique in that it was created with the subscription streaming service in mind. One of the reasons the company chose the film for Disney+ was its focus on family viewings. Associate Producer Jennie Lee candidly told us why Flora & Ulysses the hopes the team has for the film's Disney+ release and why the streamer seemed like a good fit. (Note: When CinemaBlend spoke to her on the set of the film, this was pre-pandemic, so it should be noted that any theatrical issues that have cropped up in 2020 were not an issue at the time.)
It's hard for families to get to the movie theater. It's expensive. It's an ordeal. It's so much money. This way, you can watch it again and again. This particular story I think speaks to many age levels. If your kid's five or 15 or even other adults at home. Everyone can watch it. Everyone can find something they identify with. So, I think it's going to be great to just watch as a family when you're at home, hanging out, many times in a row.
If only she'd known how prescient that "you're at home" comment would be. Speaking of pitching, creating, producing, or acting in a movie that had very different aims than a splashy theatrical release might, lead Ben Schwartz did says the film will fit in with what Disney is trying to bring to its fanbase in multiple forums. Per the actor, that Disney magic will still be there:
One thing that I think Disney does really well is I think the spine and the basis of Disney movies are heart and love. I know a lot of Disney films kill a parent, but even when that happens it’s like the love that binds the rest of the group, or the idea of this person feels like an outcast who finds this person, or an English woman comes down an umbrella and shows a family how to [come together]. I think at the core of our movie there is so much heart and love… and no parents die!
Disney+’s Flora & Ulysses Is Also Going For ‘Pixar in Live Action’
So, why live action for Flora & Ulysses? One thing CinemaBlend heard over and over on the set for the Disney+ film was that the team behind the new movie was really looking forward to tying in the Pixar aesthetic and emotionality with the realism of live action. The director of the film, Lena Khan, talked about how she really worked to make sure there’s enough in the new film to interest and appeal to adults, mentioning Toy Story and its jokes that are “clearly not for children” as an influence, also elaborating:
I’ve never seen a live action Pixar movie. This is what we were trying to do for this. One big thing in targeting adults was that, well, this was a movie about comic books and superheroes so that has to hit hard with comic book people. So I did so much research to gather like 10 different hardcore comic book people and they tell me all kinds of things. There are Easter eggs but there are also more prominent things that you’ll see.
So, what does Pixar in live action mean? While I suppose technically Ulysses himself is a CGI squirrel and thus a little more cartoon-y than the other characters, in general Lena Khan wants people to feel that the subjects are moving and feel "grounded" to help the film resonate with a lot of different types of people at different stages in their lives.
It’s more of a heightened sense of reality but where the troubles the characters are facing are really real, grounded. People aren’t cartoon-y but the situations that people find themselves in are a little off beat, hilarious, but real.