Not one of Pixar’s best efforts

A scene from 2021’s “Luca” (Photo © Disney / Pixar)

Freedom, adventure, friendship and a stylish Vespa are the main ingredients of Disney and Pixar’s animated adventure, Luca. The film focuses on Luca (voiced by Jacob Tremblay, Doctor Sleep) a young sea monster who dreams of leaving his home and boring life under the sea to explore the world above the surface. Her overprotective parents (voiced by Maya Rudolph and Jim Gaffigan) fear the surface and all humans, believing her to be dangerous. They think it is better for Luca to guard his flock of fish like a shepherd.

It doesn’t take long before Luca meets Alberto (voiced by Jack Dylan Grazer, We are who we are), a rebellious, independent and adventurous young sea monster who quickly convinces Luca to join him above the surface on his crazy adventures. His first time out of water and on land, Luca undergoes an extreme physical transformation into a human boy. Soon, with Alberto’s “expert” guidance, Luca learns to walk on human legs and is ready to explore the small Italian village of Portorosso.

The two young friends bond quickly and Alberto inspires Luca to have the confidence to try things he never thought he could handle, including eating ice cream, talking to humans and most importantly building and riding / crushing theirs. Vespa house version.

While exploring the city, Luca and Alberto meet Giulia (voiced by Emma Berman), a red-haired, strong-willed tomboy who is determined to win the Portorosso Cup. Ultra-competitive triathlon is all about swimming, biking and, of course, eating huge amounts of pasta. Eager to buy their brand new Vespa and travel the world, Luca and Alberto team up with Giulia to take on the five-time triathlon winner and town’s most heinous tyrant, Ercole Visconti (voiced by Saverio Raimondo), to win the Cut and collect the prize money.

Bright, colorful and obviously well intentioned, Luca is a coming-of-age story that borrows heavily from classic animated films, including The little Mermaid, The world of Nemo, and Pinocchio. It’s a light and forgettable adventure with characters far too reminiscent of other classic heroes. Alberto’s arrogant independence, refusal to listen to the rules, and adventurous spirit are surprisingly similar to Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn.

The vocal cast does a solid job of bringing each character to life. Emma Berman shines as the voice of Giulia, the hyper-energetic tomboy who befriends Luca and Alberto and can’t wait to have real friends of her own. Jacob Tremblay is formidable in Luca, the dreamer and “good little sea monster” who wants to obey his parents but ends up giving in to his urge to explore what lies above the surface. Tremblay gives him the right dose of innocence and wonder while discovering the world.

It is in the rhythm and the action that the film really struggles. The first 28 minutes are likely to leave young children bored with too little action and too few funny scenes. It is only when Luca and Alberto arrive in the village that the story really takes off. The script and presentation of the film is unlikely to make teens and young adults want to watch it. Unlike so many Pixar and Disney animated films, Luca will likely only entertain a very small number of children – ages 4 to 11 – as long as they are still attentive after the first 28 minutes.

Overall, Lucais basically a carefree, harmless and mundane adventure that might slightly entertain young people.


MPAA Rating: PG (some thematic elements | brief violence | crude humor | language)

Duration: 1 hour 40 minutes

Release date: June 18, 2021 on Disney +

Directed by: Enrico Casarosa

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