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The Comenian

The student news site of Moravian University

The Comenian

‘Leo’: An Adam Sandler Therapy Session

Photo courtesy of IMDb
Photo courtesy of IMDb


Originally, I wasn’t too interested in watching this movie because I thought it was going to be another cheesy and predictable kids’ movie, especially with the recent criticisms brought on by the new Disney film, Wish. I am happy to report that I haven’t watched Wish, and have no plans on doing so based on rumors that it was scripted by AI due to the current writers’ strike during that time. Another thing I don’t understand about Disney is their whole concept of making their classics into live-action versions because it seems like they lack original ideas for new content. Anywho, I am going to stop ranting about Disney and talk about my new favorite movie, Leo.

Leo is a heartfelt and easily digestible cinematic masterpiece directed by Adam Sandler and Mireille Soria, which is currently available to watch on Netflix, at least currently while writing this article. 

The main star of this film is Leonardo, which you would assume because the title is literally the nickname the students call him throughout the movie. You also have his buddy, Squirtle the Turtle, who is, in a way, the exact opposite of Leo. I wonder if that’s why their dynamic works so well throughout the movie. In a sense, a lot of us can relate to Leo having an inner struggle of where the time went and how time is catching up to us in age whether we like it or not, especially with being a college student not knowing exactly what you want to do in the future or what path to take. 

This is one of the only movies I have watched that actually validates children’s problems and makes them realistic so other children can relate to those issues as well. Leo not only gives them sincere advice but also doesn’t dumb anything down since a lot of movies tend to interpret children as unintelligent, which is why this movie is such a breath of fresh air! 

Examples used throughout the movie are the bully’s struggles with academics and loneliness, the rich girl thinking she’s awesome but lacks real connection with her parents and peers, the girl whose parents who are divorced is shut off from her family because her siblings think she is weird, and the boy whose voice is too squeaky and high pitched so he hides it from everyone. Leo solving these problems really highlights the real issues of some parents not communicating well with their children and just assuming what is best for them without talking to them. 

The antagonist substitute teacher Ms. Malkin, is what I would describe as a teacher who likes to stick with the basics. Although at the beginning of the movie, she seemed mean and strict, towards the end, I actually thought she was quite funny. We learn that she resents the fact that she dedicated her life to teaching but has only had the opportunity to be a substitute teacher. This can also correlate to her original resentment against Leo towards the end of the movie because she was jealous over the fact that he did what she couldn’t. 

To be honest, I wish this movie didn’t represent the category “musical” because the soundtrack was fun but also short and not necessarily needed for the movie’s narrative. I did like how they didn’t make the songs perfect or use autotune, which made the songs more realistic to what children sound like at their age. The jokes catered to a multitude of ages from childish to mature, which is fun to see from an adult perspective.

I also think the whole point of the “Animals shouldn’t talk to humans” mantra wasn’t really convincing because Leo talked to every child in the class. It also felt like they added this part to create a form of conflict within the plot. I mean, I totally get the idea of a child’s trust being broken because they thought that they were special, but come on, there were plenty of hints.

Overall, I can say I really enjoyed this movie and would recommend it to everyone. This movie will be my new standard for what I consider a good children’s movie. Also, this just highlights that Adam Sandler is one of the best actors, and you can’t tell me otherwise. 

I’m going to go watch Leo now (I have watched this movie like five times already)!



How insane is it that an Adam Sandler-produced Netflix movie was received better critically than a literal Disney movie? I know you’ve heard of Disney’s Wish, its 100th feature film that failed to make a mark critically and even financially. Instead, it was met with sour reviews and accusations of AI scriptwriting. What a sad reality of Disney’s 100th movie turning out to be such a disappointment, especially with all the hits they have had over the decades. 

Initially, I thought people were only hyping Leo up to spite Disney, to stick it to the man (or, in this case, the mouse). But, overall, movie-watching masses enjoyed Leo as a pseudo-musical experience mixed with digestible yet still heartfelt messaging for all age groups. 

For a kid’s movie about a therapeutic tuatara, it should not be this emotionally intelligent, but I’m so glad it is! It’s remarkable how it meshes witticisms with profound advice that everyone can relate to. Leo validates children’s problems, treating them as emotionally complex beings rather than just brain-rotted nuisances. 

The kids in this movie are multi-faceted: the child-of-divorce girl feels isolated from her family, the bully doesn’t feel smart enough, and the shallow rich girl realizes she isn’t that great. Leo helps these kids work through their problems healthily, being a source of comfort for their varied life situations.

There’s also something to be said about the character of Leo and what he represents for adults as well. Like many adults, he deals with an existential crisis, feeling like his best days are behind him and asking that age-old question, “Where did the time go?” However, he transforms this dread into wisdom he can impart to children, finding new ways to still be useful at his age. This is such a great message about finding new purposes in life and reinventing yourself no matter your age. 

Even the complexly antagonistic substitute, Ms. Malkin, finds purpose through her own trial and error. Although she comes off as a negative Nancy, she is deeply lonely and wants to protect herself not only as an educator but also as a human being. 

In terms of minor critiques, I wish this movie didn’t attach itself to being a “musical” of sorts. The soundtrack is fun, but the songs are too short or not necessary within the narrative. Sure, they may relate to some points of the plot, like the ballad where the kids feel sad about not being as carefree as they were when they were younger, but the movie could do without the faux musicality. But still, we got to hear Adam Sandler’s ridiculously delightful singing, so that’s DEFINITELY something to enjoy!

I also feel the conflict and the entire “Animals shouldn’t talk to humans” rule wasn’t fleshed out or very convincing. Oh no, the children realized that Leo has been talking to the entire class (even though there are very obvious hints that he talks to every kid in the class), and now, no one is special! I could see the argument that these kids had a right to feel hurt that their trust was “shattered,” but it just feels flimsy as a source of conflict. 

Still, I enjoyed this gem of a children’s movie, and I couldn’t recommend it more! It sets such a good example of what a kid’s movie should be and how it can address emotional health to kids in an accessible way.  It’s an easy yet compelling watch, and it certainly goes beyond just being more competent than Disney’s recent output. 

Good job, Adam Sandler; maybe you can make good movies!

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    AlexJan 30, 2024 at 10:20 pm

    One of my collaborations of all time! Watching Leo almost made me tear up at how an old lizard can be so…human. It felt like I was being read like a book of some sort. It was a wonderful experience, despite the not needed musical telling. Good job to both of you for an outstanding article.