Luca – Review

Luca Pixar Disney PlusDisney and Pixar are continuing to make the most of their hugely successful streaming platform, following up the straight-to-streaming Soul with the charming and uplifting Luca. Marking the directorial debut of Enrico Casarosa, the film centres around the seaside town of Portarosso, combining the usual fun and frolics with a more serious message about ‘fitting in’ and ‘being normal’.

Luca Paguro (voiced by The Room’s Jacob Tremblay) is a sea monster who yearns for more than his underwater set up currently has to offer. He is warned by his parents that life on dry land is hostile and potentially life threatening but, still, he is keen on the adventure.

After sneaking up to the surface, he meets Alberto Scorfano (voiced by Shazam’s Jack Dylan Grazer), a sea monster who has made a seemingly carefree life for himself on the shore. The pair quickly form a strong bond, and dream of buying a Vespa together in order to travel the country and go on adventures. However, a chance encounter with Giulia Marcovaldo (voiced by Emma Berman) soon puts other ideas in Luca’s head …

It goes without saying, but the quality of the animation in Luca is simply outstanding. The rich mix of colours is visually appealing for younger viewers, but it also manages to capture all of the charm of quaint and vibrant Italian port towns for the, ahem, bigger kids watching. It will make you crave turquoise seas; russet and amber houses; and pesto pasta. Seriously, even the food looks delicious. Once again, the Disney-subsidiary studio has brought a way of life to life whilst really going heavy on the detail in order to retain the ‘local’ charm and characteristics.

And, whilst it is beautiful to look at, at the heart of the movie is a more serious message about ‘fitting in’ and how attempting to blend in with ‘the norm’ can, ultimately, be damaging. The villagers of Porto Rosso are afraid of sea monsters. “You don’t belong here!” they cry, or “You’re not one of us!” There is talk of “their kind”. And, given the relationship between Luca and Alberto, many critics have drawn comparisons to treatment of LGBTQIA communities.

Whilst Disney would never confirm this – they notoriously have hammered out any queer references in the various Marvel franchises – it’s easy to see why these conclusions are being drawn. Alberto and Luca clearly love and support each other and share this experience of ‘otherness’. Whilst Giulia also complains that she is seen as weird and doesn’t fit in, it doesn’t feel quite as potent as the vitriol and fear surrounding the sea monsters.

Luca Pixar Disney PlusThere’s also a really lovely point made about silencing negative thoughts in your head (albeit, Alberto is encouraging Luca to do something dangerous at the time, but still) that I think will be really important for a lot of people – young and old – to hear. Whilst it is reduced to telling your brain to “Silenzio, Bruno!” it is a strong message about choosing which narratives we tell ourselves about ourselves and it was pleasantly uplifting to see it included in the film.

The voice acting is really well executed throughout. Jack Dylan Grazer – who was brilliant in both Shazam and IT – offers up a strong-minded, witty and free-spirited rendering of Alberto. Both he and Jacob Tremblay play brilliantly off each other. Luca desperately wants to belong whereas Alberto seems more content to do his own thing. Saverio Raimondo is fun as the snarling villain, Enrico, and Marco Barricelli plays the gruff yet adorable Massimo Marcovaldo perfectly. There are also plenty of jokes and fun as Machiavelli, Giulia’s cat, eyes up something fishy with his two new house guests. There is a little bit of Italian stereotyping – the dramatic hand gestures and cries of “Santa Mozzarella!” – but it’s not too frequent and, therefore, not too offputting.

It’s actually a little surprising that Disney hasn’t chosen to hit the summer cinema scene with this movie as I can easily see families making a point of going to see it, since ‘staycations’ are the way this year.

Whilst it doesn’t quite pack the emotional punch of, say, Coco or Inside Out, Luca is an entirely uplifting and sweet movie that neatly packages up chaos and frivolity with more serious messaging. It will also probably make you yearn for a summer holiday in a tiny Italian seaside town …

Luca is streaming now on Disney Plus.

Mary Munoz
Follow Me
Latest posts by Mary Munoz (see all)

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.