LUCA is directed by Enrico Casarosa. The film features the voices of Jacob Tremblay, Jack Dylan Grazer, Emma Berman, Marco Barricelli, Saverio Raimondo, Maya Rudolph, and Jim Gaffigan. The film is being released to Disney+ on June 18, 2021.
Luca is a young sea monster curious about life above the surface of the ocean. Against his parents’ directions, he goes up and befriends fellow sea monster Alberto, who’s been living above the surface on his own for quite some time. When his parents threaten to send him to the bottom of the ocean to keep him away from the surface, he and Alberto run away together to a small coastal town, befriending the eccentric but kind human girl Giulia. But will Luca be found out by his parents, and if so, will he be sent to the deep, unable to see his friends again?
Pixar has many hits and very few misses. The animation studio has been doing their thing for nearly four decades now, with over half of that time also spent making feature films. They’re unrivaled when it comes to other animation houses, and every time a Pixar movie comes out, it’s certainly an event. LUCA is the latest in a long line of movies from Pixar; their 24th film to be exact! The gorgeous Italian locales and quality animation coupled with a top-notch voice cast make this one a light and breezy watch that’s less heavy on the tears than many of their previous films, though it can’t quite rise above some overdone plot cliches that’ve been done to death in cinema.
One thing seriously worth praising here is the cast. Pixar always manages to find that balance between Hollywood stars and impressive voice actors, often uniting people who are both. Jacob Tremblay (WONDER, GOOD BOYS) is fantastic as the title character, who brings the ideal blend of curiosity and youthful energy to the screen, wanting to make his own way in the world despite the fears and nervousness of his parents. Other great performances come from the likes of Maya Rudolph, Jim Gaffigan, and a criminally underused Sacha Baron Cohen.
The scenery is nothing to scoff at either. Pixar remains the industry’s top animation studio, and their films are works of art visually, not to mention in plenty of other ways. The influence here draws heavily on everything from Fellini films to Studio Ghibli (even the town’s name is strikingly similar to the title of a certain Ghibli film), and the movie is all the more fun and entertaining to look at for these reasons.
The plotting and overall emotional tone of the film are uncomplex, which is actually a welcomed change. SOUL, the studio’s previous movie, simply tried to do too many things including being far too emotional at times. While not a bad film, I prefer LUCA’s sweet simplicity and breezy nature, not to mention its strong lead and supporting cast. I don’t want to spoil anything here, but there’s no doubt the film will make an impression on you in one way or another.
All that really drags the otherwise impressive film down is that it doesn’t have too many surprises and is a little heavy on cliches. The overbearing parents who fear for their child and don’t want them to go off on their own remains one of the most overused plot elements in cinema, and while I certainly found LUCA to be a good film, I wish the animators and writers would’ve found a way to put a more original twist on this. Though it certainly doesn’t derail the film.
LUCA is another solid adventure from Pixar. While not the studio’s finest work, I think those who have Disney+ subscriptions will be doing themselves a favor watching this one; it’s mostly light and breezy fun for young and old alike. Don’t overlook this one!
Rating: Three stars out of four.