KSL Movie Show review: “Leo” is brilliant

Nov 23, 2023, 10:00 AM | Updated: Jan 4, 2024, 2:42 pm

leo movie review...



SALT LAKE CITY — I don’t usually go out of my way to review a streaming animated movie, but this one deserves notice, which I will remind Netflix and others, make your money in the theaters first and then put it on your streaming services. You are simply walking away from free money and that’s dumb.

So why am I singling out a movie about an aging lizard, “Leo,” who unwillingly lives out his life in a fifth-grade classroom terrarium with his best pal Squirtle the turtle?

Because it’s freaking brilliant from beginning to end.

This film had me laughing and crying a lot, sometimes simultaneously, which I can’t remember happening during a movie in quite some time. Yes, trust me, it’s that good!

Well now that I’ve oversold it, let me explain why.

Leo wants to do something with his life

Leo (voiced by Adam Sandler – and don’t let that scare you!) is a 74-year-old lizard who has been stuck in the same Floridian classroom since the late 1950s.

He’s listened to decades of history, English and pre-teen angst.

In that time, he has learned to talk, but never in front of humans. They wouldn’t know how to handle it.

All of his conversations until now have been with his obnoxious turle roommate, Squirtle (voiced by the one and only Bill Burr).

But recently, he’s become aware that his type of lizard normally only lives to 75, meaning he only has one year left.

He laments that he hasn’t done anything with his life and longs to be free to roam the not-so-distant Everglades and breathe fresh air. You know, normal lizard stuff.

When the regular teacher Mrs. Salinas (Allison Strong) takes maternity leave midyear, battle-ax, cranky substitute teacher Mrs. Malkin (Cecily Strong) takes over with a traditional emphasis on strict classroom discipline, reading actual books and ignoring computers.

It’s also her mindset that one of the students takes home a class pet over the weekend to feed and look after, which is when Leo realizes his chances for possible escape and freedom.

Change of plan

And here’s where it gets ridiculously cute and clever.

On these weekend home visits, Leo realizes these kids are in real trouble. They are hiding behind issues of self-worth, annoying chattiness, facing parental divorce, being bullied or bullying itself.

Leo decides to forego his wild kingdom adventures. He breaks his number one rule, no talking to humans, to share some real wisdom with these kids, with the admonition that they tell no one about their conversations.

I’m almost in tears again, just thinking about the things they share with each other.

So there it is. Leo is the most heartfelt, funniest surprise movie of the year. I just wrote that and I still can’t believe it. See and hear for yourself.

LEO (A) Rated PG for rude/suggestive material and some language. Featuring the voices of Adam Sandler, Bill Burr, Cecily Strong, Jason Alexander, Rob Schneider and Jo Koy. Directed by Robert Marianetti, Robert Smigel and David Wachtenheim (all with ties to Saturday Night Live). 102 minutes.

Steve Salles is the co-host of the KSL Movie Show. Follow the show on Facebook. Join the KSL Movie Show Club for exclusive perks by texting MOVIE to 57500.

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KSL Movie Show review: “Leo” is brilliant