Flora & Ulysses

Movie review by
Jennifer Green, Common Sense Media
Flora & Ulysses Movie Poster Image
 Parents recommend
Quirky, book-based tale has action, dramatic moments.
  • PG
  • 2021
  • 91 minutes

Parents say

age 6+
Based on 11 reviews

Kids say

age 6+
Based on 10 reviews

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We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Kids could be inspired to hold onto their artistic and creative dreams, even if they come up against roadblocks.

Positive Messages

Superheroes have a purpose -- usually liberty, freedom, or revenge -- and they help others. Families and friends help each other through rough times. Being cynical and "seeing what's real" means you can miss out on magic and hope. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Flora demonstrates perseverance in her determination to save and believe in Ulysses, and in her parents. She's very independent, walking around town on her own, selling off old comic books for cash. Her parents, separated, are both facing writer's block, both adrift and struggling. Flora's family welcomes William. It's said that a character played by a sighted actor has been blind since a traumatic incident; he (spoiler alert) abruptly regains his sight and declares that his condition must have been "hysterical." Principal cast members are White; supporting cast includes some actors of color.

Violence & Scariness

Lots of mayhem and disruption involving Ulysses the squirrel: He's sucked into a vacuum, and Flora performs CPR to save him. He destroys inside and outside of a diner and dining room. A temperamental cat attacks people. Flora says her mom killed her hamster when she hit it with a pan. We learn that William pushed a car into a lake, which got him sent away for a summer. Miller shoots animals and humans with tranquilizer darts; kids are within his line of fire. He says a squirrel will need to be euthanized to test its brain tissue for rabies. A car door breaks off while kids are inside, and mention is made that one of them later fell out at a turn. The same car nearly has a head-on collision with a bus.

Sexy Stuff

Phyllis writes romance novels; book covers, some of them sensual, line her walls. She can't think of a synonym for "steamy" while writing. A separated man and woman share an awkward hug, then kiss at the end of a movie. Another adult couple comes close to kissing. Flora lies that she's "pregnant" when she's caught with Ulysses in her shirt.

Language
Consumerism

Titanic -- the movie and characters -- is a running reference. Also mentioned/seen: The Fantastic Four, Wolverine, Nissan, Froot Loops, Pop Tarts, Underwood typewriter, Instagram, Denim Records. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink wine with meals.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Flora & Ulysses is a quirky, kid-friendly story about a superhero squirrel. Based on the book by Kate DiCamillo, it has dramatic elements involving separated parents and action scenes played for humor. Ten-year-old Flora (Matilda Lawler) has become cynical as a result of her parents' struggles. She says that the hardest part of not having hope is watching people -- namely, her parents -- who once did have hope and no longer do. Flora demonstrates perseverance in pushing through the hard times thanks to a newfound conviction in Ulysses' superpowers. The squirrel, while adorable, causes mayhem and destruction wherever he goes, including tearing apart a diner and destroying a dining room. The animal control agent who's trying to capture Ulysses shoots tranquilizer darts randomly at Flora and other characters, hitting one multiple times. It's also said that Ulysses will need to be euthanized to test his brain tissue for rabies. A man nearly crashes his car with two kids in it, and a car door is ripped off. A temperamental cat attacks people, and Flora's friend William (Benjamin Evan Ainsworth) declares that his blindness must have been "hysterical" after it abruptly goes away. Flora's mom (Alyson Hannigan) writes romance novels, and some sensual book covers are framed on her walls. She and Flora's dad (Ben Schwartz) share an awkward hug and later kiss. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bycsmparentacct February 19, 2021

Warning for families dealing with divorce

Spoiler alert -- in this movie, the parents start off separated, but in the end get back together. Maybe not the movie to watch if your family is dealing with a... Continue reading
Adult Written byasahikunx February 23, 2021
well, remember what flora says in the film, "every hero has its purpose." ulysses had one, he's a kind of superhero who's not for saving the... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byRoscobutbetter February 24, 2021

It's ok

The storyline is semi messy, i think it's relatively fine for the younger audiences.
Teen, 17 years old Written bycallmeejohana February 23, 2021

Just disappointing.

I think this that this movie was awful. The story line is very mess, nothing really exciting happens, and the story is really confusing to understand. The... Continue reading

What's the story?

The title characters of FLORA & ULYSSES are 10-year-old Flora (Matilda Lawler) and the squirrel she saves after a freak accident involving a vacuum. Flora is in a rut: Ever since her parents, George and Phyllis (Ben Schwartz and Alyson Hannigan), separated, which led both of them to stall out personally and professionally, Flora has been covering up her grief by feigning cynicism. Cynics, she warns, don't hope -- they see what's real. They know that magic and wonder and superheroes are imaginary. But when Flora saves Ulysses (voiced by John Kassis) and takes him home, she quickly realizes that he has special powers. He writes poetry, learns to fly, and may have other abilities. Together with her dad and new neighbor William (Benjamin Evan Ainsworth), Flora must protect Ulysses from the local animal control agent (Danny Pudi). And Ulysses, in turn, may just help Flora and her parents rekindle their belief in magic.

Is it any good?

This offbeat book-based film is as silly as you might expect from the premise, but it also packs a sneaky emotional punch. If you find yourself shedding a tear over the fate of, yes, a squirrel, chalk it up to the flawless, adorable animation of Ulysses and a mostly commanding performance by Lawler as the outwardly clever but inwardly despondent Flora. She's entirely convincing as a 10-year-old who's holding things together while her parents fall apart. You know she shouldn't be in that position -- any more than she should be sitting in the front seat of her dad's new sports car -- but that's part of the zaniness and also the weightiness of the role. Flora pulls her family back together through the strength of her conviction ... in a magic squirrel. Whether her story is real or imagined, well, that's up to you to decide. But it's the characters' own belief in magic that helps them rediscover their hope, confidence, and path forward.

Following Flora & Ulysses' use of superhero metaphors, Flora herself isn't unlike her dad's creation, the superhero Incandesto, whose light saves souls from the darkness of despair. The gold-clad Incandesto (Darien Martin), who regularly pops up to cheer Flora on, is just one more quirky but likable character in the cast, which also includes William, a dry, formal chap who has an unexplained British accent and blindness that turns out to be (as he says) "hysterical," and the squirrel-obsessed/tranquilizer-happy animal control agent Miller, whose mania recalls Bill Murray in Caddyshack. As these two character descriptions may imply, the film doesn't seem particularly concerned with contemporary political correctness. This -- together with throwback references drizzled throughout and a zippy soundtrack that includes classics from Tom Jones, MC Hammer, and Cat Stevens -- adds up to give Flora & Ulysses a somewhat retro feel.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the outlines of superhero tales mentioned in Flora & Ulysses, such as their origin stories, their discovery of purpose, and the expansion of their powers. What makes superheroes so appealing?

  • What is Ulysses' superpower? If you could have any superpower, which one would you pick?

  • How does Flora show perseverance? Why is this an important character strength?

  • This movie is based on a book. If you've read the book, how does the movie compare? If you haven't read the book, do you want to read it now?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love Disney

Character Strengths

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