LUCA (DISNEY+) (2021)
SYNOPSIS: Set in a beautiful seaside town on the Italian Riviera, Disney and Pixar’s original feature film “Luca” is a coming-of-age story about one young boy experiencing an unforgettable summer filled with gelato, pasta and endless scooter rides. Luca shares these adventures with his newfound best friend, but all the fun is threatened by a deeply-held secret: they are sea monsters from another world just below the water’s surface.
This is frankly a Studio Ghibli inspired project than a true blue Pixar one as director Enrico Casarosa admitted himself that he drew inspiration from the former. Definitely not on the level of Soul or even Finding Dory, Luca is a fun, whimsical title perfect for the hot summer despite the modest storytelling.
Set in Portorosso, Pixar’s imagined version of Cinque Terre which is known for its picturesque sea coast and villages, a young sea monster, Luca (Jacob Tremblay) befriends another sea monster, Alberto (Jack Dylan Grazer) and agrees to set out on an adventure on a Vespa after transforming to human forms while on land. But first, the duo needs to find the money to buy one. And it happens that they met with a local gutsy girl, Giulia (Emma Berman) and decides to join her in the Portorosso Cup.
Anyway there is also a local bully Ercole (Saverio Raimondo) who is out to stop the trio from winning the race. Luca’s overprotective parents, Daniela (Maya Rudolph) and Lorenzo (Jim Gaffigan) who are also in Portorosso looking for Luca. For a 95 minutes animation, there’s not a minute wasted and not a second of boredom in short.
Longtime Pixar fans and general audience will find the coming-of-age flick a delight. Most of the best moments derives from Luca and Alberto’s desperate attempt not to get in touch of water or risk turning into sea monsters in front of the locals who are out to kill any creatures in sight. Even a drop of dew can be dangerous it seems. The comedy is mostly on point and the relationship between the boys are affecting.
As per Pixar’s standards, the animation details are flawless. Every scene is meticulously created by the animators. The Mediterranean is remarkably recreated onscreen that you probably need to pause or risk blink-and-missed the insane amount of details and Easter eggs. Another thing to note is the inclusion of numerous upbeat, melodic classic Italian songs to go with all the visual beauty. II gatto e la volpe?
Perhaps the biggest takeaway from Luca is the subtext. By subtext, we mean the underlying LGBT theme between Luca and Alberto. You know how society find it hard to accept sea monsters. You get the drift. Maybe it’s Disney’s subtle way of acknowledging the fact but since it’s a well-known, wholesome family-friendly brand, we got to say it’s a beautiful movie about friendship and loyalty instead.
Luca is a straight to Disney+ release despite the excellent workmanship. On the other hand, it’s always a good thing to get an original mega production for subscribers. The latest offering from Pixar is a celebration of imagination, culture and friendship. It also marks this generation version of The Little Mermaid, the one with a sea creature fascinated with human life. Similar yet different.
Review by Linus Tee