Luca is a Pixar computer-animated film directed by Enrico Casarosa. The movie centers around Luca Paguro, a sea monster who can assume a human form while on land. He meets another boy like him named Alberto Scorfano, and they develop a friendship. Luca dreams about getting away from the undersea life and receives a life-changing experience when he visits a local Italian Rivieria called Portorosso set in the 1950-1960s. He and Alberto try to earn money to travel away from the town and explore the world. They also must make sure that the townspeople of the Riveria that are fearful of the sea monsters around the village don’t find out their secret and hunt them down.

Full thoughts and Review of Luca

Disney and Pixar’s Luca don’t seem to be anything special on its surface. In a way, it can be looked at as a step back from other Pixar films. Luca felt quietly ushered onto Disney Plus, and I hadn’t seen much hype for the film. But maybe this was a conscious choice. Had the film been pushed to the normal levels for Disney hype, it could be looked upon as overhyped, given the story Luca conveys. Having to go and watch this for me without much fanfare, I found it’s a simplistic tale that is well done.

Luca is a goatfish herder that is told to stay away from the surface from his parents out of fear that the local townspeople will hunt him down. Luca leads a mundane life until he meets Alberto, who shows him that sea monsters turn into humans when dry and revert when wet. Alberto is a free-spirited boy that is also a sea monster but lives more above than below the surface. He and Luca connect, and they try to get out of the ocean and see the world. It’s a typical coming-of-age story, with all of the elements that come with this story. The boys also have a friendship and bond that does feel genuine.

While the boys are in town, they meet a local bully named Ercole Visconti and his two toadies, Ciccio and Guido. He’s a repeat champion of the Portorosso Cup that’s too old to compete but still does, thinking that everyone loves him and his antics. Ercole is a good fit and a well-written character in this film. He becomes their antagonist when he realizes they plan to enter the Portorosso cup. Ercole isn’t an overly evil character but just a bully and nuisance. His character strength is his arrogance, and he does pull off a bully-level threat well.

Luca’s parents Daniela and Lorenzo, played the typical parents and are the weakest of Luca. Daniela is the overprotective mother, and Lorenzo is the absent-minded father. They are the only characters I thought needed more development. I think they weren’t given enough time to develop how much I wanted them considering the other characters in the story.

The story of Luca isn’t a complicated story to follow and is straightforward. Most of the story is pushed forward by actions done by the characters in Luca. There will be a few “liar revealed” moments, but it doesn’t feel rushed or forced. It can come off as a natural feeling and satisfying how they happen and the consequences they lead to both good and bad resolutions. Luca also doesn’t get lost in its message and focuses on the main story. There is a side story in the film of Luca’s parents trying to find their son in the town that isn’t bad or good; it’s just there. You eventually know that they’ll catch up to him, but it blends into the main story nicely when they do in the story.

I did like the town and design of Portorosso. The animators did a great job of bringing the city to life, studying the Italian Rivera, and researching the environment and culture. The town seemed to come alive with The use of Italian music was a nice touch and added more culture with various pop music and opera songs playing in the city and the soundtrack of Luca. In a way, I got a sense of wonder like Luca and did want to know more about the town.  

The animation is excellent. The animators felt like they captured the Summer seaside Italian town well. The colors stood out to me and felt like a summer set of colors. The colors during the day and night scenes stood out and complemented and contrast each other well. Watching  Luca felt like I wasn’t watching a 2D-style animated film rather than a 3D movie. I read this movie as a homage to other Italian filmmakers’ styles, stop motion animation, and Miyazaki’s inspiration. There is evidence that shows this if you are familiar with the work that they’ve done.

I guess you can’t get any more fish out of the water than the concept of this film.   Luca felt different from past Disney Pixar films.  Luca feels simple in story and animation, comparing it to other Pixar films like Inside Out or Soul.  Luca isn’t groundbreaking but still manages to tell a fun story and charm anyone.

Summarized thoughts and review of Luca

I’ve heard of the “fish out of water” story; Luca is likely the definition of that concept. Simile aside, this is a fun and enjoyable movie. It’s a simple premise that works and produces a charm that’s enjoyable and feels authentic. I love the characters, and all characters contributed to the story for the most part. Even though it can be predictable, the story still surprises me with how the reveals happen and their outcome. I liked this film, and anyone that loves animated movies, Disney or Pixar, should enjoy this film.

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