August 24, 2022 / Netflix
Jonathan Groff, Mary J. Blige, Tim Blake Nelson, Gina Rodriguez
Lost Ollie is an epic adventure about a lost toy who braves the many dangers of childhood as he searches the countryside to reunite with the boy who lost him; and the story of the boy who lost more than a best friend. It’s a heartwarming tale for the child in us all, remembering those special souls that we’ve lost but who forever changed our lives.
Written by Darren
Rating 5 out of 5
Lost Ollie is one of the most heartwarming and beautiful miniseries I have seen in recent memory, delivering an unforgettable journey and mesmerizing performances from Jonathan Groff and Gina Rodriguez.
Netflix’s latest miniseries may look like a live action version of Toy Story created for younger audiences, but Lost Ollie is so much more, providing an honest look at childhood, loss, love and friendship, that left this reviewer bawling his eyes out in the final episode like it was the end of Toy Story 3 all over again. Based on William Joyce’s novel, the miniseries tells the story of Ollie, a lost toy searching for his best friend Billy. After waking up in a second hand store, Ollie embarks on an adventure to find his way home to Billy, while Billy desperately searches for Ollie, who has lost more than just his best friend.
The story utilizes flashbacks throughout the four episodes to show the friendship between Ollie and Billy, capturing the magic that exists between a child and their favourite toy and creating some truly beautiful moments of childhood wonder. At the same time, the flashbacks give insight into Billy’s home life and his relationship with his father and mother, highlighting how important Ollie is to Billy. So when you see Ollie and Billy trying to find each other, it creates an ache in your heart because while Ollie and Billy may not be fully able to comprehend how important it is that they be reunited. However, the audience grasps the stakes at hand, causing you to hold your breath and hope Ollie gets home safely. And while this may be a show about a lost toy, there is a darkness to the story. On Ollie’s journey, he has some truly frightening encounters and adult situations that highlight the darkness in the world, but framing it through Ollie’s good heart and childlike innocence, it only strengthens how pure of a soul Ollie is and the heart of the story.
It’s all expertly written, so once everything is revealed in the final episode, the story’s ending lands one of the biggest, emotional suckerpunches in recent memory that absolutely broke me and left me in tears for the final five minutes of the miniseries. While it’s not a story technique you expect from such a show because it is incredibly ambitious and is rarely utilized by most shows because it is incredibly tricky to pull off successfully, the writers more than stick the landing and provide one of the most incredible conclusions in recent memory. It's not only the perfect ending to this story, but something so beautiful that strengthens the messages of love, loss and family that are being conveyed throughout the show. While younger viewers may not be so broken by this beautiful ending, adult viewers will be simultaneously devastated and uplifted by it.
The miniseries is a mixture of live action and animation to create the toys of the story, and the animation is stunning. While at times it's clear that real toys were used to stand in for Ollie, Zozo and Rosy, the animation maintains the lifelike nature of these toys and wonderfully makes them active characters within the real world. It helps build the imagination of the story because the animation never makes it feel like these toys that interact with the real world, but characters brought to life by the imagination of children.
And, the cherry on top of such an already outstanding miniseries is the incredible cast led by Jonathan Groff as Ollie. Groff is fantastic as Ollie, capturing the resilient and loving toy that will stop at nothing to be reunited with his best friend. Through an outstanding voice performance, Groff captures the childlike innocence of Ollie and grows this truly memorable character over the course of the miniseries, delivering some truly beautiful moments, especially during the final episode where he is literally playing your heartstrings like a musical instrument. Kesler Talbot is great as Billy and the wonderful chemistry he and Groff have as Billy and Ollie captures that friendship that all of us had growing up with our favorite toy. So when Billy loses Ollie, Talbot captures the loneliness that Billy is experiencing and delivers a performance that will make you forget this is only his sixth role.
Tim Blake Nelson and Mary J. Blige are both perfectly cast as Zozo and Rosy, creating two wonderful individuals who help Ollie on his adventure to find Billy. Jake Johnson delivers an excellent performance as Billy’s dad, venturing into a far more dramatic role than the comedic ones we are used to seeing him in, showcasing his versatility as an actor.
Though, other than Groff as Ollie, it is Gina Rodriguez as Billy’s mother who steals the show. Rodriguez is nothing short of sensational in this role, bringing a warmth and strength to her character that creates a lasting impression on the audiences. Her character arc is incredibly powerful, and Rodriguez handles it in the most beautiful way possible, which helps create the emotion of the series. Rodriguez may be best known for her leading role in Jane the Virgin, but in my opinion this is her finest performance to date as without her, the show would not be the masterpiece in storytelling that it is.