Directed By: Enrico Casarosa
Written By: Jesse Andrews and Mike Jones
Starring: Jacob Tremblay, Jack Dylan Grazer, Emma Berman, Maya Rudolph, Jim Gaffigan
Sometimes movies are just delightful. The movie will end and you will say to yourself “that was nice”. You may take away some themes and specific moments from the movie, but on the whole, the time spent watching said movie will fill you with a sense of joy and satisfaction. When it comes to Disney Pixar’s Luca, joy, satisfaction, delightful and nice are some of the words that come to mind. The movie won’t blow you away, like some of Pixar’s other movies (Soul, Up, Toy Story 3 for example) but when the credits roll and the music plays, there might not be a movie this year that makes you feel better about your friends and humanity.
The story of Luca is fairly straightforward, a couple of friends try to win a race so they can buy a Vespa and travel the world. Of course with Pixar nothing is simple, nothing is straightforward. For our hero Luca, voiced by Jacob Trembley and his friend Alberto, voiced by Jack Dylan Grazer, are sea monsters who can live on dry land amongst the “land creatures” as humans themselves, just as long as they dont get wet. For when they get wet they instantly turn back to the creatures that are feared and hunted by the humans.
Right away, within minutes of the film starting, the colour palette is shown to be bright and luscious. The Italian Riviera is on full display as the underwater scenes are full of blues and greens that look amazing, even on your home theatre screen with Disney+. When Luca and Alberto make their way into the small Italian village and start interacting with the towns folks, and their friend, the stand out Emma Berman as Giulia, the colour palette changes, to more browns and greys. The buildings, the streets and walkways are grey and brown but behind them as well as in the sky, is always a beautiful blue that keeps the colours always moving and when the emotion and the sadness hits, the blue shows us that hope is never far away.
Character designs for both the sea creatures and the humans are also gorgeous.The sea creatures are bright and have all the features of what you think a sea creature would have. There is a line drawn between how “gross” and “evil” the creatures are made to look from the perspective of the humans who hate them, but also still a hopeful and kid like viewpoint that makes them cute and friendly. As for the humans we are given more of a stop motion or hand drawn effect. This is not Soul, or even Toy Story when it comes to authenticity. Not that they look like straight up cartoon characters, but there is a sense of fantasy, as there should be, with both sea and land characters.
What would you do for a friend? Where can your friends take you, that your fears cannot? I’ve mentioned “nice, hope and joy”, and when I think of friends, my friends, I think of Luca. I think of a movie that tells us we are always better with friends than we are alone. What friends can do is embrace the fact that we are scared, we are different, and they can make our own trepidation about trying something new, something scary, they can make that go away. With Roberto and Luca we have two friends that in the end will do anything for one another that is both selfless, but also self respecting. Roberto and Luca both understand what it means to be friends by the end, and along with Giulia we get a trio that brings a town together, and brings different races of all shapes and sizes together.
That’s a lot of hype, how about a gripe. Nothing happens in this movie that surprised me. The story went right where I thought it was going to go. The “villain” was straight forward and at times a little too predictable. The major gripe is that the movie was just nice. That’s a weird gripe to have. But when you think of Pixar that always has that something, and Luca has that with the human/sea creature angle, it’s actually a testament to the film when I didn’t think of the sea creatures as anything strange. Not enough wow. A gripe to me isn’t negative, but something that I noticed.
Luca is a story about not being afraid to be yourself. If you feel different, if you look different, if you are different. You are not alone, you should not be afraid to be who you are. With our hero Luca and his friends Giulia and Roberto? We get what every person should strive to be, someone that thinks of others first and foremost, because in the end as Luca says “We can go anywhere, do anything! We just gotta stick together”.