Luca Review: Fun Under the Italian Sun


As a kid, summer was the pinnacle of your young adult life. There’s no school and homework, just friends, fun, and freedom. Disney and Pixar’s Luca expertly captures that magical childlike innocence, along with its worries in trying to figure out how one fits in this world. Coming-of-age films, such as The Sandlot, contain subtle themes about self-confidence and learning how to be yourself. Luca is able to delve into these genre themes through the adventures one finds with one’s friends.

Luca follows Luca Paguro (Jacob Tremblay), a sea monster who dreams of exploring beyond his home by going to the surface. After a chance encounter with Alberto Scorfano (Jack Dylan Grazer), Luca goes on a journey that will change his life forever.

Now, it’s hard not to read that synopsis and not think of The Little Mermaid. Despite the basic story similarities, that’s where the comparisons end. For one thing, writers Jesse Andrews (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl) and Mike Jones (Soul) essentially turned The Little Mermaid into a buddy comedy. Also, Luca and Alberto don’t need an evil witch to get to the surface. All they need to do is simply go on land. Of course, it’s never as easy as it seems. In the event that the boys get wet, they revert to their sea monster form. Unfortunately for them, this tends to happen at the most inopportune moments.

By the time Luca ends, you’ll feel that rush of remembering the fond memories of your childhood.

As a result, the plot for the film is easy to figure out very early on. The conflicts in Luca are resolved a little too easily, and the film’s ending ends a little too neatly. However, with Luca, it’s not about the story. The heart and soul of Luca are with its characters. Luca, Alberto, and Giulia’s (Emma Berman) journey are what makes the film shine. The film is excellent because the stakes are low. Not to mention, the film prioritizes spending time with them to give them the space to flourish. Yet, the film isn’t solely powered by those three. The supporting characters, such as Giulia’s imposing, one-armed father (Marco Barricelli) and the self-centered town bully, Ercole (Saverio Raimondo), are delightful as well. 

Equally important, Luca is a love letter to Italy, thanks to the film’s Italian-born director: Enrico Casarosa. As with any Pixar film, the visuals in Luca are breathtaking, flooded with lively colors and the warm sunlit tones of its environment. The film also has a lot of fun in its Italian setting. Most notably, Luca‘s bouncy mid-century Italian pop soundtrack and its sweeping Italian Riviera landscape. It also takes pleasure in having Guilia introduce Luca to the world of science—a not-so-subtle celebratory nod to all of the famous Italian scientists like Da Vinci and Galileo.

Overall, Pixar has put together a film that favors character over plot. Luca‘s core themes about longing for acceptance and finding your place in this world is precisely the kind of subject matter we’ve come to expect from a Pixar film. It might not have the weighty and high-concept topics of Soul or Coco, but by the time Luca ends, you’ll feel that rush of remembering the fond memories of your childhood.

Rating: 4/5 atoms

Disney and Pixar’s Luca is now playing on Disney+.

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