REVIEW: ‘Luca’ is Charming Family Fun Movie

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Luca

Luca is a coming-of-age story about two young friends living off the coast of the Italian Riveria with plans of having the most unforgettable summer. While they throw caution to the wind, they must be careful in protecting their deepest secret; they are sea creatures from deep within the ocean. The Pixar film is directed by Enrico Casarosa, screenplay by Jesse Andrews, and Mike Jones, starring Jacob Tremblay, Jack Dylan Grazer, Emma Berman, Maya Rudolph, and Jim Gaffigan.

Luca (Tremblay) is a young sea monster whose overly cautious, land fearing parents have protected him all his life from potential danger. Until the day Alberto crashes into his life and shows him the joys and adventures he can have above the water. The two quickly become as thick as thieves with grand ideas of owning a Vespa and traveling the world. Eventually, the boys venture into the human town, whereupon they meet Giulia, a young girl of the same age, who tells them about the Portorosso Cup, a triathlon competition for the kids of the town whereby the winner takes home a handsome bounty, enough to buy a rusty 5th hand, Vespa, from one of the local residents. From there on out, the film takes shape as the trio teams up in order to thwart the local bully and win the race for their own glory. Luca is a fusion of The Little Mermaid, meets The Sandlot, meets The Little Rascals.

The plot itself really hinges upon the whole narrative of ‘coming-of-age’ best summer of your life, and if you can buy into this early on, then this film is a treat. Luca’s isolation is the early foundation that leaves him with a desire and hunger for new experiences. He wants to figure out who he is in the world outside of his home and to expand his horizons. This was a rousing point for me, and I fondly recall that point in my life when you realize the adventure that exists in the world is just waiting for you. This will absolutely evoke a sense of familiarity with anyone who’s seen The Sandlot. Again the foundation of the film, and ultimately the conclusion, is based around that similar transformation from challenging the expectations of who you are and who you can become.

Tremblay and Grazer’s vocal work was fun while not always effectively enticing. Some of the jokes didn’t land quite as well as expected compared to what I’ve seen from other hit Pixar films. They certainly grow into the roles as the film progresses. Still, early on, their relationship feels clunky, resulting in it taking a little longer to find that character attachment to sell the emotional payoff that all Pixar films are built around. However, where Tremblay seems to really light up is during his scenes with Berman, who plays the young girl Giulia. Berman’s vocal work exudes an infectious personality that’s light, bubbly, and silly all rolled into one. She really does steal the scenes she’s in, adding fantastic energy to the film—a star in the making for sure.

The visuals are truly stunning, which I don’t think will surprise anyone who’s seen any of Pixar’s work, whether it be CocoOnward, Soul, or the other bountiful selections. The majority of the film is set in a coastal town in Italy, and the tones and the landscapes bring to life that Mediterranean feeling. The transitions from water to land are done exceptionally well, with the audio synced up to create an auditory sense of being under the water to coming up and being engulfed in the sounds of the open air. Speaking of transitions, I was really impressed with the sophisticated transformations from a sea monster to a human and back again. This is used heavily throughout the film, each time coming into play in new and creative ways to reinforce the conflict of the boys’ secret.

Ultimately, Luca is an entertaining, family-friendly watch that is a perfect summer film. It’s visually fantastic, paired with some fantastic Italian music. While it doesn’t quite have that big emotional ending, it does a lovely job capturing the character’s themes of breaking the mold and discovering your true self. Luca will be utterly endearing for kids but may be a bit hit and miss for everyone else. For my family and I, however, I think this one is going to get played a lot on Disney+.

Luca is available to stream exclusively on Disney+ on June 18, 2021.

Luca
  • 7/10
    Rating - 7/10
7/10

TL;DR

Ultimately, Luca is an entertaining, family-friendly watch that is a perfect summer film. It’s visually fantastic, paired with some fantastic Italian music. While it doesn’t quite have that big emotional ending, it does a lovely job capturing the character’s themes of breaking the mold and discovering your true self. Luca will be utterly endearing for kids but may be a bit hit and miss for everyone else. For my family and I, however, I think this one is going to get played a lot on Disney+.