According to Pixar standards, Luca is a very small movie. It is not a question of grasping the purpose of life or the point of emotions; it is not to dive into the Great Before or the Great Beyond; it’s not even about expanding an existing universe or creating a whole new one.
The emotions it inspires also seem relatively modest – blurs warmer than the full-body sobs the studio has become famous for eliciting in adults. It’s just the story of a kid enjoying the summer while trying to hide the fact that he’s a sea monster. And it’s not even a particularly legendary or fierce sea monster.
But it would be a mistake to reject Luca as a minor effort, or less worthy of consideration than its more overtly ambitious brethren. Its smallness turns out not to be a curse but a blessing, allowing the film to project the soft but lasting glow of a cherished memory. It’s a rare late Pixar movie that’s aimed at kids and their parents as well, and it’s perhaps Pixar’s most endearing movie in years.
‘Luca’ is a simple treat that is sure to put a smile on your face.
Luca (voiced by Jacob Tremblay) is a young teenager who, like his corporate cousin Ariel before him, has lived his entire life underwater but yearns for the forbidden allure of the surface world. When he does eventually reconcile, however, the first creature he encounters is not one of the “land monsters” his overprotective parents warned him against, but another sea monster: Alberto (voiced by Jack Dylan Grazer), a brash older boy who teaches him human concepts like walking and gravity.
The two boys transform into scaly blue sea creatures when wet – imagine if the fish man from Water shape tried the Instagram cartoon filter, and you’ve got the gist – in ordinary-looking humans when they’re dry. So they leave for the sleepy coastal town of Portorosso, which is known for its hatred of sea monsters but also locally famous for an annual “Italian triathlon” (i.e. swimming, biking and eating pasta) which offers enough cash prizes to buy the boys the scooter of their dreams.
Like a trip to the Cinque Terre.
Credit: Disney / PIXAR
Portorosso (the name a nod to that of Hayao Miyazaki Porco Rosso, highlighting Lucastatus of one of Pixar’s scariest films) is a treasure in its own right. Although the story begins in the unknown depths of the sea, it is the land that appeals to Luca, and director Enrico Casarosa and his crew create a surface world worthy of his wonder. Portorosso may be a humble village, but director Enrico Casarosa and his crew relish the tranquil beauty of its textured stone streets and sun-bleached walls, the glare of light reflecting off its water, the pleasant buzz townspeople playing checkers or football. on the square.
Luca and Alberto, for their part, roam its alleys with unhindered joy and sometimes even with pure fantastic fantasy, as when Luca imagines diving into skies of glittering fish or weaving through fields of Vespas on the loose. (If you didn’t already know Casarosa was the guy who made the utterly gorgeous The moon, sequences like these are dead gifts.) Luca does not get a large theatrical release, as was originally planned; such a vivid and detailed vision deserves to be savored on the big screen.
In Portorosso, Luca and Alberto befriended a local girl named Giulia (Emma Berman), forming a trio of outsiders to overcome the ultimate overdog – last year’s triathlon winner, a jerk of smoothing named Ercole (Saverio Raimondo). And that’s about it, as far as the plot goes. Luca is less interested in big twists than in the ever-changing dynamics between the three tracks; While the film never ventures beyond the purely platonic, it’s hard not to read the queer subtext in the boys’ intense bond, or Alberto’s resentment towards Giulia, or the constant fear of being exposed (as sea monsters) in front of angry townspeople.
The cutest sea monsters you will ever meet.
Credit: Disney / PIXAR
In Luca, we get the arc of a self-described “good kid” who receives a much needed lesson by moving past the protective shelter of his well-meaning but ignorant parents (Maya Rudolph and Jim Gaffigan) and towards the life he really wants. It is a journey that will be familiar to countless young people who are currently going through the same process, or adults who have already done it, and it is the key to Lucais accessible magic.
But the most compelling character in the film is Alberto. He’s a striking figure with his proud posture and know-it-all attitude – he’s the kind of boy who’ll just make up things if he doesn’t know the answer to a question, and whose made-up answers will invariably prove it. be far more interesting than the real answer ever could have been – but Grazer nuances his performance with just enough insecurity to suggest a more complicated personality beneath all that bravado. Where Luca is the child who will obviously go, Alberto is the one we need to know.
Maybe that sweetness leads to a movie that ends up being even sweeter than it should be; if Luca missteps, it’s with a climax that can’t seem to stand playing some of its biggest threats or seeing through some of its more thorny metaphors. But it’s hard to be too broke about it. The perfect summers are hard enough to come by, whether you’re a kid trying to make the most of their free time or an adult dreaming of a weekend getaway. Luca delivers a slice so rich and sweet you’ll practically taste the ice cream on your lips for hours afterwards. It’s a simple pleasure that will make you smile for sure.
Luca debuts June 18 on Disney +.