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The student news site of Downers Grove South High School


The student news site of Downers Grove South High School


‘Leo’ is a movie everyone can enjoy

Andrew Staser
Some might be hesitant to watch and enjoy an animated movie made for children, but “Leo” creates a welcomed reflection on a more innocent time for many in high school and beyond. Pastel colors and warm stories invite viewers to look back with nostalgia on their elementary school memories.

“Leo,” an animated musical comedy, is a wonderful nostalgia trip for many: recalling a simpler, more innocent, elementary school life. Directed by Robert Marianetti, Robert Smigel and David Wachtenheim, the film was released on Nov. 21, 2023. While the cast is extensive, the most important characters are voice acted by Adam Sandler, Bill Burr and Cecily Strong.

Throughout the movie, one follows the journey of Leo, a classroom pet lizard, as he discovers how to best spend the last year of your life. The movie attempts to answer how one can live a valuable life.

While this movie is rated PG and its target audience is mostly aimed at children, the plot and story line can still appeal to any age level due to some heavier topics being mentioned like dealing with divorce, the passing of a loved family member or just trying to fit into a school.

To some, the movie can feel a little fast at times; according to IMDb, the runtime amounts to 102 minutes, something that seems almost foreign as movies, on average, get longer and longer. This forces the movie to continue moving the plot at a faster pace due to time constraints. This definitely messes with the pacing of the movie as major characters and backstories only get a minute or two each, but does not compromise the cohesiveness of the plot itself.

One extremely noticeable detail about the movie is its incredible vibrance in lighting, color, and saturation. The pastoral greens, blues and yellows symbolize the innocence of elementary school and being younger.

Watching this film is like watching a moving Monet painting. The soft tones, like whimsical paint brush strokes, invite the viewer to relax and reflect. Additionally, the pastel colors, a prominent feature of Monet’s work, dance across the screen and calm the watcher.

The movie simply masters capturing the feeling of being a little kid again. Worrying about the small, inconsequential things in life is incredibly relatable for people looking back on their childhood and is accurately depicted in the characters’ choices and dialogue.

One low light throughout the movie is the music. Considering it is a musical, there are relatively few songs in total, but they are noticeably misplaced and tend to add little to the overall plot or character building.

Because this movie is heavily focused upon the school children, a lot of the songs are led by younger singers. There is no doubt they are trying their absolute best, but their voices just haven’t fully developed, which leads to a very nasal sound-something more developed singers try to avoid.

Fortunately the writing makes up for what the music compromises. The writing includes a lot of jokes including some that would go over the head of a child and are designed for a more mature viewer.

Also, the writing is efficient. With a limited amount of time and a lot of cast members to introduce, there are very few monologues and scenes rely on both subtle animation and precise dialogue to move the plot along quickly. This helps keep the audience engaged as they must watch for body language and motions just as much as they listen to the movie.

Despite some of its flaws, “Leo” remains, at its core, a wholesome movie that anyone can enjoy. On Rotten Tomatoes, the audience gave the film a score of 93%, giving it a wide range of positive approval from viewers.

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