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One or two fun characters and scenes do not disguise that Leo is visually drab, that a majority of the jokes don’t land and that the mediocre musical numbers grind the picture to a halt.

The one thing I'll remember from Leo will be the way young toddlers are portrayed: as verociously enthusiastic, unrelenting forces of nature that put a smile on your face just with their outrageous desire for fun at any cost. If only the movie itself had been fun.

Leo is quintessentially an Adam Sandler vehicle: just like every movie he has delivered on his Netflix deal since 2015 it feels like an underdeveloped extension of ideas scribbled on a napkin. But it stings more with Leo because the central premise has promise.

The concept of a classroom lizard who longs to break out of his glass prison before he shuffles off this mortal coil is thematically sound, as is the fact that he bestows life lessons on the fifth-graders in his class. But Leo does hardly anything with this and is content with an onslaught of basal, unfunny jokes.

The mediocrity extends to the animation, which is passable but doesn't even try to push any buttons, while the musical numbers are seemingly just there to pad the runtime because they lack urgency, emotion and wit.

Thus Leo ends up a movie that will test the patience of kids and parents alike, with a shelf life that doesn't deserve to be much longer than that of the titular lizard.

release: 2023

director: Robert Marianetti, Robert Smigel, David Wachtenheim

starring: Adam Sandler, Bill Burr, Cecily Strong, Rob Schneider


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