So! Pixar is famous for its tear-jerking movies all about life, mortality and feelings. We got if ‘what if toys were alive and had fears, hopes and aspirations?’. After that, they gave us robots falling in love and saving the world with the power of reforestation. This year we got an interspecies journey for friendship in Luca.
I can say with certainty that Luca takes a different path from then its predecessors. But it still manages to be a heartwarming coming-of-age tale.
The movie begins with our Luca Paguro, voice by Jacob Tremblay. A young sea monster who lives off the coast of an Italian Riviera town. Along with his overprotective parents, Lorenzo and Daniela, voiced by Jim Gaffigan and Maya Rudolph. For most of his life, he has obeyed his parents’ wishes. Avoiding the surface world just above their waters and the land monsters that live there. That is until he runs into Alberto, voiced by Jack Dylan Grazer. A fellow teen sea monster with an Ariel-esque obsession with collecting surface world stuff.
Together the duo does what kids do best. Go on silly, impulsive and at times, dangerous adventures together to see what awaits them. Eventually, their thirst for thrills leads them out of the waters and into the town above, where they get into a whole new world of trouble. Including cliffing diving, friendships and Vespa races.
While it doesn’t have the same impact as other Pixar creations, the story’s simplicity sells it really well. It is a story of self-discovery, friendship and growth.
It delivers classic lessons on standing up for yourself and standing by the people you care for. The added aspect of strict and watchful parents creates an added layer of relatability. Creating empathy for our lead because you feel for his desire to see the world and find a place for himself in it, outside of what he’s been told it is.
Obviously, it is still a Pixar movie, so what would it be without some heart-wrenching tragic backstory? Initially, you’re led to believe Alberto is a flippant kid without supervision, living his best life doing what he wants to do. But as you watch along, you get to see past the easy smile and impish nature at the solitude and abandonment. Bring more complexity and depth to him as a character. Luca, unwilling to give up his newfound freedom and life, makes some decisions that cause him to lose the only two friends he’s ever made.
The film does briefly touch on intolerance and prejudice, and I do mean briefly. The conclusion while touching is fairly quick. The majority of the screen time is dedicated to character growth, which is great. Still, it does seem like it wastes the comedic talents of its cast—especially Jim Gaffigan and Maya Rudolph, who spent most of the movie just looking for their son.
Overall, Luca is a solid 7/10 and a fun watch for the upcoming weekend, but I doubt it will have the longevity of Pixar masterpieces like Inside Out or Coco.
Keshav Kant, aka Mx. KantEven, is a neuroscience nerd turned Creative Consultant and Executive Director of Off Colour!
You’ve probably seen her on TikTok or caught her work on Off Colour's many channels. From consulting on films & shows, manuscript review, conducting interviews, or hosting podcasts & panels, if there is some way to bring sensitivity and authenticity to diversity, inclusion and equity conversations, Keshav will be there.