Luca (2021)

luca poster 2021 movie
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

A good animated feature

Doesn't do enough to distinguish itself from other ventures by Disney and PIxar

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Luca

Studio:  Pixar Animation Studios/Walt Disney Pictures

Genre(s):  Animated/Comedy/Action/Adventure/Family

Release Date(s):  June 17, 2021 (Annecy International Animation Film Festival)/June 18, 2021 (US)

MPAA Rating:  PG

luca mother maya rudolph jacob tremblay

First I was stuck in Room…now I’m stuck in Sea

Luca Paguro and his sea monster family live in the warm waters off of the small town of Portorosso, and Luca is daily warned of the dangers of the surface world and humans.  When he meets another sea monster boy named Alberto Scorfano, he begins to fall in love with the world he is forbidden to be part of.  Luca and Alberto run away in the hopes of getting a Vespa and exploring the world and find themselves teamed with a girl named Giulia Marcovaldo in the hopes of winning a race to fund their Vespa dreams…unfortunately, sea monsters are hunted and their rival Ercole Visconti suspects Luca and Alberto are hiding something.

Directed by Enrico Casarosa, Luca is a family animated comedy-adventure.  Following Soul in 2020, the Pixar-Disney film release was delayed by COVID-19 and the film was released directly to Disney+.  The movie as nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.

luca giulia alberto human

“I think the animation style is crappy”
“I think that it is a style selected to tell the story…what do you think, Luca?”

I didn’t land on Luca until the Academy Award nominations came out.  I am divided on Pixar films in general.  I think they do a lot of amazing stuff, but I also feel that they get stuck in ruts (like a lot of Disney films).  It now sometimes feels that Pixar is slowly being sidelined by Disney after their merger…Luca is an example of this because it feels like it received little fanfare.

While Luca isn’t bad, it does fall into that Disney/Pixar trap.  The story is rather predictable for adults, and I think even kids could predict some of the directions of the story.  Like most Disney and Pixar stories, it is very positive and a good message for kids about acceptance, following dreams, and believing in one’s self, but the path of movie kind of follows the expected direction.  It is a bit segmented in plot, and it ends up rather abruptly.

The vocal cast (like most animated films at this point) is strong and made up of a combination of celebrities and voice actors.  Jacob Tremblay and Jack Dylan Grazer play the leads Luca and Alberto while Maya Rudolph and Jim Gaffigan play Luca’s parents out to find their missing son.  Newcomers Emma Berman and Saverio Raimondo play Giulia and the bully Saverio.  Sandy Martin and Sacha Baron Cohen have small roles as Luca’s grandmother and uncle.

luca vespa albert giulia winner

Winners? Shocking…

The movie’s style divided viewers.  The filmmakers wanted to emulate Looney Tunes style of art and also liked the look and style of both Hayao Miyazaki and Federico Fellini in various style aspects.  It could be argued that it is a more simplistic style of computer animation, but its intentionality is noted, so the makers didn’t cut corners.

While some didn’t like Luca due to stylistic choices, I didn’t like Luca as much due to story choices.  The art is good and solid, and the story isn’t bad but predicable.  It will be interesting to see future Disney-Pixar ventures as the years go on, but I do wish that the companies would find a way to distinguish themselves…maybe with either Pixar or Disney taking a more experimental approach to their films and buck the format they’ve created.  Both Disney and Pixar movies used to be an event…now they just feel routine.  Pixar followed Luca with Turning Red in 2022.

Related Links:

The 94th Academy Award Nominations

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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