‘Flora and Ulysses’ movie measures up to the book


Kasey Thompson

Sophomore Ellie Alcombright reads the book, “Flora and Ulysses.”

Ellie Alcombright, Staff Reporter

Warning: Spoilers!!

“Flora and Ulysses,” the Newbery Medal winning book has been given a movie adaptation, but can it live up to the book’s name? Honestly, I think it can. With Matilda Lawler playing Flora, and Ben Schwartz playing her father, the casting was perfect with embodying the characters’ personalities. 

Flora, “a self professed cynic,” as said in the book, and comic book enthusiast, brings a squirrel back to life after being sucked up by a vacuum. She later names him Ulysses. After being sucked up, he becomes extremely intelligent, has incredible strength and… learns how to write poetry? 

Flora’s mother, Phyllis Buckman, played by Alyson Hannigan, is a romance novelist. In the book she has a very odd lamp which she calls Mary Ann. She holds the lamp which is a small girl with sheep crowded around her very dear to her heart, it’s pretty large and takes up a lot of space. It’s fragile so Phyllis is extremely protective over it, maybe even more so than her daughter.  However, in the movie they changed that to an award for her romance novels. I think this was a really good choice because when the award breaks at the end of the film, it expresses how her mother is going to focus less on her work and more on her daughter.

One thing that the movie could have done better is building the relationships between characters. Mrs. Tootie Tickham is Flora’s neighbor and also the person who ran over Ulysses with the “Ulysses super suction, multi-terrain 2000x” (which Ulysses is later named after). Mrs. Tickham shows up a lot in the books, but in the movie she is only shown for about two to three minutes. She helped Flora meet Ulysses which is shown, but never helps discover his powers, nor read his poetry like she did in the books. In the original story she is an important role model and helps to find Ulysses after he goes missing. They focused a lot more on the family in the books, and the other supporting characters weren’t really given justice. Although the relationships in the movie are well done, they could have been better.

Mrs. Tickham’s great nephew, William Spiver, played by Benjamin Evan Ainsworth, has a crucial role to play in the story of “Flora and Ulysses.”

In the book, Flora actually finds him to be quite odd and annoying. She doesn’t want to hang out with him, but ultimately they become friends. 

In the movie, she actually is quite fond of William and they become friends quickly, best friends even. William is pretty smart, and he has very good vocabulary but is “suffering from hysterical blindness” (not really, it’s just his glasses) and Benjamin portrays his personality really well.

Now last, but not least, let’s discuss, Ulysses. The CGI (computer generated imagery) is great and the squirrel’s mannerisms are pretty squirrel-like. 

In the book, Ulysses has thoughts and opinions and he is constantly wanting food. I think his personality is portrayed extremely well in the movie. He eats a whole bag of cheese balls as in the book, he writes the poetry like he did in the book, when it comes to Ulysses pretty much everything he did in the book, happened in the movie. There isn’t really much that you can complain about when it comes to our little squirrel friend. 

All in all, “Flora and Ulysses” is a great story. Some moments are suspenseful, some are happy and it can be really funny at times too. The book and the movie have some major differences, but I think that’s a good thing. It’s nice to see different portrayals of the same story. I, for one, am super thankful that Kate DiCamillo wrote this story. It was nice to just take a break, and read a great book and watch a great movie.