A little over a year since the COVID-19 pandemic forced movie studios to put a halt on most of their productions, it is clear that Disney and Pixar were working double duty to bring us their third animated feature in these troubled times. LUCA, a charming coming-of-age story set in Italy, arrived on Disney+ over the weekend and it’s set to entertain children and parents alike.
Directed by Enrico Casarosa and voiced by Jacob Tremblay (better known by parents for his role on Wonder), Luca shows what happens when a teenage sea monster with shape-shifting powers adventures out in the human world after his curiosity lands him in trouble with his parents. Fun, dynamic and extremely entertaining, Luca also counts with a stellar voice cast, with names like Jack Dylan Grazer (Shazam!) and comedians Maya Rudolph (Bridesmaid and Saturday Night Live) and Jim Gaffigan. Every single minute of its 95 minutes is well used to move the story ahead, and there’s never a dull time. “Silenzio Bruno!” is sure to become a hit jargon with the little ones this summer.
What is in it for the parents?
One of the greatest things about watching a Pixar animation is that it works for adults too. We saw it with Toy Story, Inside Out and most recently, Soul. Gladly, Luca is no different. There are enough good jokes that will keep parents immersed in the story.
LUCA is also very pleasing to the eye, well-designed and colorful, which is a testament to Casarosa’s abilities and many years of experience as a storyboard artist. His talents come in full display, for example, during a dream sequence where Luca sees himself and his new friend, Alberto (Jack Dylan Grazer), who
is also a see monster, riding a Vespa motorcycle into the sky, where he floats among anchovies and a big, bright yellow fish – his interpretation for the stars and the moon.
Another highlight in the animation is its score, composed by Dan Romer, who’s most recent credits include TV shows like The Good Doctor and Superman & Lois. His work really brings everything together and transports you to a typical Italian Riviera scenery.
Now, when it comes to storytelling, Luca does feel a little bit different than most Disney and Pixar production – which is not a bad thing. Luca is much lighter as movie, and not as committed to imparting a moral lesson as Soul or Inside Out did, for example. That change offers a good break from mundane day-to-day activities, and a good, relaxing time with family.
Will The Kids Like It?
Honestly, no. The kids are going to love it! LUCA is just as fun as any other Pixar movie but, as said before, more lighthearted. Luca, Alberto and their human friend, Giulia (Emma Berman), are captivating as a trio, and have enough qualities that most kids will identify with.
The movie also offers a clear villain, Ercole Visconti (Saverio Raimondo), the rich kid who bullies them throughout the movie. His spoiled and treacherous attitude will make children root for the friends even more. Additionally, Luca has just the right pacing and running time. The story does not drag with unnecessary dialogue and is very dynamic.
Is It Worth Your Time?
LUCA is a satisfying and positive story about acceptance, curiosity, and friendship. Luca, Alberto and Giulia are great characters, supportive to each other and willing to trust and work together to make their dreams come true. Kids and parents will find a lot of good things to talk about, but without the weight of turning every scene or dialogue into a teachable moment.
LUCA is by far the most refreshing, lighthearted Disney and Pixar animation in many years, which is a great change. Besides, LUCA is available on Disney+ at no additional cost, making it a very fun movie night for everyone.