I just want to get this out of the way first, NEVER TRUST CLOWNS. Lost Ollie is a new limited series streaming on Netflix and is only four episodes long. If you’re wondering what the show is about, think Toy Story (1995) meets Coraline (2009) – the story follows a lost toy (Ollie) trying to find his way back to his best friend and owner (Billy). While it may sound perfectly endearing, don’t be fooled because there’s definitely a creepy vibe to this show. When I first came across this series on Netflix, I saw that one of the categories it fell under was “dark”. At first I was really confused by this categorization, but let me tell you, once you reach the end of episode two, you’ll see why.
[This review will contain spoilers; read at your own discretion]
It’s a little difficult to explain, but as soon as I started watching the first episode, I had this unnerving feeling that something bad was going to happen. I don’t know if it’s because the toys looked straight up creepy or because the show felt like it had this dark overcast the whole time, but I just knew this show wasn’t going to be as innocent as it may suggest. And I was right! It’s definitely not a lighthearted show, so don’t go in expecting laughs and warm fuzzy feelings.
What I found unique about this show was the perspective it was told in. While we mainly followed Ollie on his present journey in finding Billy, he used clues from fragmented memories to find his way home which simultaneously revealed Billy’s past. So really, you’re getting two stories in one. I personally was more interested in Ollie’s story – I wanted to know why he ended up awake in some random box and whether he was going to make it home. While I was initially confused as to why Ollie had trouble remembering his past, the reveal at the end where it’s shown many years had passed and that Ollie had been lost for decades was especially mind-blowing.
Of course, we can’t forget about the “friends” Ollie met on his travels. Look, as soon as Zozo was introduced in the first episode, I IMMEDIATELY knew he was bad news. I mean just look at him! He’s as creepy as can be. I refused to believe that this creepy looking clown was as friendly and considerate as he was. And I’ll be honest, he almost had me. But as soon as episode two reached its end and Zozo was revealed to be a psychotic, toy-murdering clown, I regretted ever having my doubts.
I didn’t find Zozo’s backstory all that compelling either, it was kind of a cliché tragedy of a man going crazy after losing his beloved. What I will say though, is the voice acting done by Tim Blake Nelson was superb – he managed to sound convincingly sweet or awfully menacing whenever he needed to.
Rosy the teddy bear ninja on the other hand was the opposite of Zozo. While she was prickly and rude to begin with, she quickly became Ollie’s hero and saved his life. I didn’t like her character initially, but she grew on me. She had a tragic backstory as well and her dependency and loyalty towards Zozo was ultimately her downfall.
Most of the heartfelt and emotionally gripping moments of the show came from watching Billy’s past through Ollie’s flashbacks. While the story itself is pretty generic, it was still very sad and difficult to watch. After battling cancer and being unable to pay for the treatments, Billy’s mother eventually passed away leaving behind a now reclusive husband and a struggling son. Gina Rodriguez put on a heartwarming performance as a dying mother that really tugs at the heart, but I will admit her over the top Southern accent was a bit much. Meanwhile, Jake Jonson didn’t have much to work with as Billy’s dad so I guess he was alright. His performance was serviceable I suppose. But the star of the show was really Billy and Ollie.
Kesler Talbot is a wonderful child actor and he put on a convincing performance as Billy. My favourite part of the show was definitely the sweet and adorable dynamic between Billy and Ollie, a young boy and his favourite toy. It brought back memories of my younger days when I had a favourite toy too (you know a show’s good when it can evoke these kinds of emotions). So when I realized the ending was actually a happy one, I was over the moon. After seeing Ollie go through so many dark and scary events (Zozo is the one to blame!), seeing him eventually reunited with Billy (but as an adult!) made me tear up.
This limited series was much better than I anticipated and I’m happy to have given this a watch. While it does have a slight shared familiarity with Toy Story (1995), it’s an entirely fresh story in its own right (and much creepier too). Although the focus of the story is on toys, it’s definitely for mature audiences only. Don’t scar your kids okay. With the ending being so satisfying, I have to give Lost Ollie an 8/10. I always appreciate a great original story and this one definitely is one. The final episode was my favourite because it was a real roller coaster ride: I felt fear, sadness, and joy all within a span of 40 or so minutes. With the series only being four episodes long, I’m sure you can fit it into your schedule. Give it a watch and let me know what you think!