Batman and Robin. Ant-Man and the Wasp. Flora and Ulysses? The latest dynamic duo may have more fur than spandex, but they also have just as much heart and more than enough star power (Ben Schwartz, Anna Deavere Smith, Danny Pudi) to carry the whole family through a rollicking origins story that easily earns Flora & Ulysses a pawhold in the pantheon of righteous crusaders.
Alyson Hannigan stars in the film (premiering Feb. 19 on Disney+) as Phyllis, a struggling romance novelist who packs an emotional and physical punch on behalf of her tenacious daughter, Flora (played to perfection by newcomer Matilda Lawler), and Ulysses, the superhero squirrel.
Check out the just-released trailer for Flora & Ulysses above, and then read on to find out why Hannigan was super-eager to sign on to the project, how she and her family are doing in quarantine, and how food glue has elevated her parenting game.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Flora & Ulysses is adapted from Kate DiCamillo’s Newbery Medal-winning book. Were you or your daughters (Saty, 11, and Keeva, 8) familiar with her?
ALYSON HANNIGAN: We were introduced to her books when my oldest was in kindergarten, and we’ve been huge, huge fans ever since. In fact, when my agents brought it to me, my first instinct was, YES! [Then I thought,] “You should probably read the script first.” [Laughs] I was so concerned about bringing her vision to life, but they made it as good as the book, if not better. Don’t tell Kate that, even though she’d probably be the first one to say it. They captured everything that is so lovely about her writing and her worlds, and then some.
Part of the concern for a story like this is making a CGI animal character (and a titular one at that) work on screen, but Ulysses looks much better than other CGI creatures in recent films.
You’ll lose a lot of people if the squirrel looks like a weird. You don’t want the squirrel to look like a puppet, but everything was just so thoughtfully planned, envisioned, and well-executed across the board.
If ever there was a time for superheroes, furry or otherwise, this is it. Who are your heroes?
My sister-in-law, Amy, because she’s a nurse, but also I have to say teachers. Even though my kids are doing remote learning, it’s been so impressive. All these people have really risen up. If you really look at the stories of how heroic all these people are, there is beauty in this. Not that I would sign up for it ever again.
What are some of the new parenting skills you’ve learned during the pandemic?
Food glue is a game changer for me [for snacks]. It’s edible. It better be edible. It says it on the bottle! I glued mini marshmallows into the shape of an igloo. This seems ridiculous, but [my kids] were happy ’cause they got marshmallows for a snack. I can get really creative because it doesn’t have to go in a lunch box, but they’re gonna be really disappointed when they open their lunch box on the first day back to school.
How are you and Alexis [Denisof, Hannigan’s husband] holding up?
We’re a good team. Sometimes we’re like, “Hey, this isn’t so bad. I’m enjoying all this family time.” And then other times I’m like, “Oh my God, this is horrible.” And the whole time, regardless of what we’re going through, we’re just trying not to puke.
A version of this story appears on our Parental Guidance page in the February issue of Entertainment Weekly. Order the issue now — featuring cover stars LaKeith Stanfield and Daniel Kaluuya — or find it on newsstands Jan. 22. Don’t forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.
(Video courtesy of Disney)
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