We all remember the days when we were excited to take home the classroom pet in elementary school. But other than sitting in the cage in the corner of the room, we never really considered much more about them after we moved to the next class or year. But a new Netflix animated movie Leo may make you wonder what ever happened to that pet all those years ago.
Leo, could also be named The Secret Life of Classroom Pets. It follows the story of Leonardo, a 74-year-old lizard who fearing his inevitable end breaks the rules and actually talks to the kids who take him home. Hoping for one great adventure in the Florida Everglades, Leo ends up helping the kids through some of the hardest parts of being 10 and in fifth grade. The story has a lot of great lessons and surprises for all of the characters throughout the movie.
One of the biggest surprises in Leo is the movie is actually a musical – for no real reason at all. The musical aspects come and go very inconsistently and may actually take you by surprise. Sure, the movie is billed as a musical comedy in its logline, but it’s something that is easy to miss as you read the description. However, seeing as Adam Sandler’s last animated movie Eight Crazy Nights was also a musical comedy, it should be no surprise at all. But if you’re just expecting a cute movie about a classroom pet trying to escape, the kids belting out songs may take you by surprise.
Sandler also voices Leo in the movie, doing the grouchy old man voice we’ve heard him do so many times before. It’s a bit grating at times, but fits the aging lizard well. Other voices throughout the movie are covered by other Happy Madison alum like Rob Sneider, Jason Alexander, and Bill Burr.
Even though Leo does have a bit of a darker understory – a lizard trying to live life before he dies, the movie does have a lot of heart too. Leo not only helps kids understand each other, become more comfortable in their own skin and all the while does get to experience life along the way – even if he does end up losing his tail too. It’s cute, pretty low risk and the stereotypical parents and kid types throughout the movie are not only relatable but will actually make you laugh quite a bit.
Even if we forgive the musical aspects of Leo, the movie is well-animated and the characters are mostly likable. The kids are cute, the scenarios are fun and it should keep most kids attention. The movie does have a runtime of about about 1 hour 42 minutes, so for some younger viewers it may require pausing and coming back to it.
Leo will premiere on Netflix next Tuesday, November 21st. While the movie has a lot of heart and kids no doubt will love it, it will make you question some of the choices that were made when creating it.
Actor and comedian Adam Sandler (Hotel Transylvania, The Wedding Singer) delivers signature laughs in this coming-of-age animated musical comedy about the last year of elementary school –– as seen through the eyes of a class pet. Jaded 74-year-old lizard Leo (Sandler) has been stuck in the same Florida classroom for decades with his terrarium-mate turtle (Bill Burr). When he learns he only has one year left to live, he plans to escape to experience life on the outside but instead gets caught up in the problems of his anxious students — including an impossibly mean substitute teacher. It ends up being the strangest but most rewarding bucket list ever…
Directed by Robert Marianetti, Robert Smigel, David Wachtenheim
Starring Adam Sandler, Bill Burr, Cecily Strong, Jason Alexander, Sadie Sandler, Sunny Sandler, Rob Schneider, Jo Koy, Jackie Sandler, Heidi Gardner, Robert Smigel, Nick Swardson, Stephanie Hsu, Nicholas Turturro