Leo summary and ending explained

Leo is an animated coming-of-age musical comedy film starring Adam Sandler. He lends his voice to the titular character, a 74-year-old lizard who has lived his entire life as a class pet. As he decides to escape and do something meaningful before he passes, he starts interacting with students to solve their problems, leading to hilarious and profound consequences.

Plot summary

The film begins with the start of a new school year in Florida in 2023, where the 5th graders are embarking on their journey at school. In class 5-C, we meet Leonardo, ‘Leo’ the lizard, and Squirtle the turtle, the class pets.

They observe and comment on the new students in their class. Their teacher, Ms. Salinas, introduces herself and announces that the best-performing class will win a special field trip.

However, it’s soon revealed that Ms. Salinas is pregnant and will be taking maternity leave, to be replaced by the stern substitute teacher, Ms. Malkin.

Meanwhile, Leo overhears some parents discussing Tuataras, his species, and learns they live up to 75 years. Realizing he was born around 1949, Leo calculates his age with the help of Cinnabun the hare, another class pet, and discovers he is 74 years old and may soon die.

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This realization makes him regret living his entire life in captivity, prompting a desire to escape to the wild Florida Everglades.

In a twist, Ms. Malkin reintroduces a practice where students take home a class pet each Friday. Leo sees this as an opportunity to escape, but when he’s taken home by a girl named Summer, she discovers he can talk.

Leo gives her advice that helps her make friends, but each subsequent escape attempt ends in Leo helping the child who takes him home. He tells each child they are special, so his talking remains a secret.

Leo ending explained in detail:

How does Leo’s advice help the kids?

As Ms. Malkin’s strict methods cause distress, Leo’s advice begins to unify the students. Squirtle, feeling left out, calls his friend out on his secret talks. The lizard admits his initial escape plan but now wants to share his wisdom to help the children.

In one instance, Squirtle unsuccessfully tries to give advice, highlighting the wise lizard’s significance. Ms. Malkin, puzzled by Leo’s popularity, uses it as a motivator for academic performance, allowing well-performing students to take the pet home. However, Squirtle’s jealousy grows.

Leo communicates with students outside school hours using phones left in his enclosure. The class’s performance improves, and Ms. Malkin receives praise for it.

What does Squirtle do?

All this praise being showered upon his friend is too much for Squirtle, and, in a fit of jealousy, he livestreams the lizard talking to multiple students on phones, revealing his secret to everyone.

The students are heartbroken, but Leo explains his intentions were always to help. This revelation causes the substitute teacher to realize that it’s the class pet, not her, who has been aiding the students.

How does Ms. Malkin react?

Ms. Malkin, feeling betrayed, confronts the lizard and shares her own life’s disappointments. She confesses that despite dedicating her entire life to teaching, she has never gotten any respect or a class of her own to teach. She has always been a bitter and hated temporary teacher.

Leo, in turn, helps her see the value in her role as a substitute and encourages her to make the students feel happy. Similar to how her teachers made her feel when she was a student.

Meanwhile, as the students prepare for a history fair, Ms. Malkin’s attitude warms. However, after winning ‘Teacher of the Year’ for the class’s success, she deceives the lizard about the class’s feelings and abandons him in the Everglades.

Does Leo die?

Squirtle, realizing the truth, follows the class on a field trip using a drone and comes clean about his actions. He also reveals Leo’s true intentions and what the evil substitute teacher did to him.

The class forces Ms. Malkin to confess, and they set out to rescue their beloved pet, who is struggling in the wild but learns that Tuataras can live up to 110 years. As he faces danger from alligators, the class arrives just in time to save him.

Reunited, Leo shares his newfound knowledge about his lifespan and the students express their love for him. The pets return to school, where the lizard imparts final wisdom to the students as they graduate elementary school.

Ms. Malkin, now with a permanent position, insists that Leo and Squirtle join her in her new class of kindergarteners, ending the film on a note of continued adventure, learning, and chaos.

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