Where will Pixar’s next great adventure take its loyal audience? Pixar has expanded so much from its earliest films confined to bedrooms and fields out of town. We have been treated to adventures in the world of monsters, the beautiful highlands of Scotland, the vibrant world of the dead, and so many more. Even their most recent release back in December, Soul, took audiences to a world beyond life. But leaves shot for a beautiful summer locale to really enjoy this summertime relaxation. Queue…the Italian Riviera! Pixar brings their expert skills in animation and rendering to bring this colorful and lively place into life. How will they see their latest venture, Luca? Right on Disney+ like Soul! Is this the best strategy? That would be a whole other article.
But this article is meant to ask one important question…does Luca live up to the hype surrounding every Pixar film? You will find out soon! First off, this film is beautiful. The striking beauty of Italy is rendered so perfectly with plenty of color, rustic Mediterranean style, and vintage buildings such as movie houses (no wonder that stuck out to me, am I right?). The character designs are a little different than we expect from Pixar, but they work so well in the world of Luca. This tale about sea monsters works only if we believe the design of them. They are fun and bold in how they appear on screen.
Pixar is known so well for delivering deep and meaningful films with plenty of emotion but is this latest effort up to snuff? Not quite. The themes of the film of acceptance and racial issues are so important and timely but are navigated in a simple way. There is not much depth in how these themes are tackled but they balance out with pure earnestness. You will feel something along the way. The friendships that grow between Luca, Alberto, and Giulia are endearing and packed with plenty of heart. This film would not work as well as it does without their beautiful connections. In the end, Luca is sweet and moving in many ways even if those emotional moments do not quite hit like the opening of Up or Bing Bong from Inside Out.
Even with a simple and straightforward narrative that is not its strength, does Luca make the most of a committed vocal cast? You cannot go wrong by casting two of the most talented up-and-coming male actors in the business, right? Jacob Tremblay and Jack Dylan Grazer are both endearing and relatable in their portrayals of these two young sea monsters as they chill all day while avoiding being discovered by the people of Portorosso. The plot might be thin and most of the runtime might be spent exploring a slice of life, but these two performances make it more engaging. Emma Berman is endearing and fun as well with her performance as Giulia. Maya Rudolph and Jim Gaffigan are satisfying comic relief characters playing Luca’s parents in search of their son. The real MVP for me was Maroc Barricelli with his performance as the one-armed fisherman Massimo. His vocal performance was on point and his bushy eyebrows emoted so much. The antagonist is over-the-top and cliched, but it is not the worst thing when most of the film is so sweet.
Should you flock over to Disney+ to check out Luca? I would say so. Is this one of the best that Pixar has to offer? That is by no means the truth. The plot is loose, and the emotional depth may be lacking. Luca does deliver a vibrant world full of fun characters and honestly it is just enjoyable to live in a beautiful coastal town for the runtime of the film. Treat yourself to a nice and inoffensive time that also passes along a meaningful and sweet message of acceptance.