‘Leo’ Ending Explained & Animated Film Summary: What Happens In Adam Sandler’s Netflix Film?


Leo is an endearing tale of a lizard who accidentally takes on the role of a therapist and helps students in the fifth-grade cope with life. The story has been written by Adam Sandler, Robert Smigel, and Paul Sado, and I personally loved how it touches upon many facets of life while keeping you engaged in the journey at all times. So, let’s find out what conflicts Leo had to face and if he was able to find a solution to his problems.

Spoiler Alert

What was bothering Leonardo?

Leonardo the lizard and Squirtle the tortoise had been kept as classroom pets in one of the sections of the fifth grade. Since the very beginning, they had been there, and everything they had learned in life was through what the teacher taught the students. Hilariously, they knew fractions, but they had no clue how addition and subtraction were done. They didn’t know that elemental mathematics would prove to be detrimental to their survival and they would have to make efforts to learn it. Every year, a new batch of students came, and Leo saw them dealing with the same kind of problems. There was always a student who bullied others or who believed themselves to be superior just to hide their own insecurities; there was always the one whose behavior was impacted by the relationship their parents shared, and there was one who felt out of place. Amidst all the hullabaloo, Leo and Squirtle sat in the small cage, carefree, not giving a thought to their own existence. One fine day, after overhearing a conversation where the average lifespan of a lizard was being discussed, Leo got all inquisitive, and he wanted to know how old he was. After going back down memory lane, he realized that he was born in 1949, but the problem was that he didn’t know addition and subtraction. He decided that he would have to take matters into his own hands and go on a quest to find his age.

How does Leo find his age?

Though all his life, he had been kept in a cage and his knowledge was quite limited, Leo was a street-smart lizard. He intentionally rang the fire alarm so that everybody evacuated the area. Once he was out, he asked Cinnabun, the rabbit, to tell him how old he was. Now, Cinder had spent his days in second grade, and that was why he knew how to do basic addition and subtraction. He told Leo that he was 74 years of age, and through the revelation, Leo realized that considering the average age of a lizard was 75 years, he had only a year left. Leo decided that he would no longer live in the cage. He had never experienced the wild, and he somewhat felt that it was not fair that he had only heard about how his species was in its natural habitat. The film, Leo, tried to make an important statement at this point, though we loved the fact that it didn’t get preachy but expressed the message quite subtly. A plan was made that when the students take Leo to their house as a class activity over the weekend, he would seize the opportunity and make an escape.

How does Leonardo help the kids?

Summer was the first one to take Leo home, and she was the kind of person who just kept on rambling without caring what others had to say. Truth be told, Leo didn’t want to be a mentor, but he became one accidentally. He was a sympathetic lizard, and through his years of experience, he decided to speak to the kid to make her life less miserable. Firstly, Summer was shocked that the lizard could speak, and once she was able to digest that fact, she heard the advice that the old reptile had to give. Leo told her to listen to others, as that was how she was going to develop bonds with people. He said that unless and until she gave others the opportunity to speak, they wouldn’t feel close to her. Leo asked her not to tell any other student that he could speak, as only Summer had that privilege since she was an extremely special human being. Eli, Jayda, and Mia were next in line, and on every single occasion, Leo first tried to escape but then ended up giving valuable life lessons to the students. They all implemented it in their lives, and saw instant benefits from it. Every time Leo told the students that only they were the special ones, he did not know that this lie would come back to ruin his own life.

Why does Squirtle get jealous of him?

Squirtle got jealous of Leo because he also wanted that kind of importance and popularity. Nobody wanted to take him home, and now the kids had also left their phones inside the cage so that they could call Leo and take his advice in case they needed it. Now, Squirtle had also tried his hands at counseling, and he had been highly unsuccessful. He didn’t have that kind of worldly knowledge, as he was quite young. But when his desire to be better than his own best friend didn’t materialize, Squirtle made an evil plan to expose the lies that Leo told all the students. He recorded a video of Leo talking to different kids, and all the students saw it. They realized that he was talking to everybody, and they were not the only special ones who had that privilege. Their sentiments were hurt, and they all boycotted him. Leo was apologetic, but he didn’t have any sort of bad intentions behind his actions. He only wanted to make the kids feel good about themselves, but in the process, his popularity had made Squirtle bitter from within.

Why did Malkin leave Leo in the jungle?

Ms. Malkin was hated by all the students. She was brought in as a substitute for Mrs. Salinas, as the latter had to go on a pregnancy leave. Ms. Malkin regretted not having the kind of popularity that the class teachers did. She had been teaching for many years but not even once had she gotten her own class. Her experiences had made her bitter, and she lashed out at Leo when she came to know that he was talking to her students behind her back. There was a big reward for the students if they did well in class. Principal Spahn had told them that whichever class won would be taken on a field trip to Magic Land Park. Because of Leo’s counseling sessions, the kids performed exceptionally well, and the principal gave all the credit to Ms. Malkin. She was happy that she was finally getting credit, but there was something that worried her. She felt that if everybody came to know that it was Leo and not her who was really responsible for the progress shown by the kids, then once again, her existence would fade into oblivion, and someone else would take the limelight. So she decided to get rid of Leo and leave him in Everglades National Park. She knew she was not doing the right thing, and there were times when she felt guilty, but still, she went ahead with the plan as she no longer wanted to be a substitute teacher.

What did Leo get to know in the jungle?

During the ending of Leo film, it was the kids who took it upon themselves to bring back their favorite lizard to school. They were infuriated when they got to know that Ms. Malkin had left him in the wild, and even Squirtle felt the guilt of backstabbing his friend. The kids decided not to go on their field trip, for which they had waited for such a long time. All of them went looking for Leo, but obviously, it was not going to be such an easy task. Leo bumped into a few other lizards, and through them, he got to know that he had the wrong information this whole time, as the lizards comfortably went on to live beyond 100 years. He was happy that he still had time and that he was not going to die in a year’s time. The children brought Leo back to school, where Ms. Malkins decided that both the pets would go with her to whichever class she taught. Ms. Malkins was finally made the class teacher, and she was relieved that she no longer had to be the substitute. The kids passed their exams with flying colors, and they were all grateful to Leo for what he had done, which in turn helped them get over their inhibitions and fears. The kids realized that life was beautiful and a joy ride if only everybody had a confidant like Leo.

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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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