Cute squirrel, terrible script
Disclaimer: haven't read the book.
My 5-year-old kid loved the squirrel, and the sense of peril was enough tension to keep her interested all the way to the end.
Danny Pudi is in fine form, but this is one of those cases where a great character actor has no hope of saving a mediocre movie. The other actors were OK, but the script and direction didn't give them much to work with.
The character decisions, the dialog, and the overall plot are terrible.
The family tension is "real" enough to be interesting, but the way the dad character flip-flops on his commitments to his family, then his work in retail, is a shallow trope. Not saying the decisions are unbelievable, just that this character doesn't show or tell us anything to explain his decisions.
If you care about role models and moral themes, the dad in this movie basically lies at every opportunity. It's usually a well-meaning lie, but there are no consequences. Flora is also rarely able to tell the truth to either of her parents.
The thing with the blind neighbor is... Well, I don't want to spoil it, but the twists are anticlimactic and don't do as much for representation or empathy as Disney may have hoped.
The main character, Flora, is precocious in a good way. Not a role model, but her innocent take on cynicism not as despicable as some of the most notorious cynical kids in the hollywood pantheon.
Some lines seem like obvious mistakes, other lines seem like they were written with a specific tone in mind but delivered by an actor who didn't understand.
I understand that the main antagonist is supposed to be 100% despicable, but the movie goes out of its way to explain his attitude as a phobia, then pulls no punches when punishing him for pursuing the squirrel. The attempt at adding sympathetic depth to the character and then treating him like a one-dimensional villain is kind of unsettling.
Having the family break into an animal control building and set a bunch of animals loose seems kind of a risky move. There's also a punch that seems a little bit undeserved; maybe we're supposed to let it go because it's delivered by Alison Hannigan?
The thing that's really missing from this movie is a sense of scale and proportion. A super-powered squirrel needs super-problems. This squirrel's problems are the same as any squirrel's: where to get food, how to avoid reprisal from homeowners and animal control officers when he chooses the wrong source of food. I guess that's in proportion to the origin story component of this formula, but the way the squirrel is able to fly or use super strength at exactly the right moment (as part of contrived sequences of events that the "good" humans are 100% responsible for) is just silly.
If you're just looking for a silly story about writers who can't write and squirrels with superpowers where all the problems are tied up with a neat (if totally unrealistic) bow, maybe you'll appreciate the effort that went into this movie.
I'm interested to see what director Khan does in her first team-up with Danny Pudi in "Tiger Hunter," where she may have had more control of the story. After _Flora & Ulysses_, though, my hopes are not high.