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Luca is a 2021 animated coming-of-age fantasy film directed by Enrico Casarosa, written by Jesse Andrews and Mike Jones, produced by Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar Animation Studios, and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. The film stars Jacob Tremblay and Jack Dylan Grazer. It was nominated for Best Animated Feature, but did not win.
"Silencio, Bruno!" -Luca Paguro
Luca Paguro is stuck in his life as a sea monster. His wishes for a more exciting life come true when he meets Alberto Scorfano, another sea monster that fearlessly visits the human's land. When Luca's parents threaten to send him away, he and Alberto run away to a small, charming Italian village. There, they encounter a young girl named Julia and begin to experience life as a human. However, when they discover that the town despises sea monsters, they must work to hide their secret from the world.
Seeing From Sea Monsters' POV / Character Arcs / Group Dynamic / Payoff in the Finale / Using Water as a way to Build Tension / Italian Setting / Emotions / Forced Villain and Use of Character / Luca's Parents / Length and Working Better as a TV Series / Actual Story / Comedy
When comparing this film to the most recent Pixar film, Soul, I'd definitely say I liked Luca better.
When comparing it to the rest of Pixar's filmography, I'd say it would rank lower than most films, though.
I do think that the film does a great job of showing you life from Luca and Alberto's perspectives. When you are watching a film from the point of view of a character that is not human, it can feel distant or not relatable. But Luca makes its two main characters sympathetic and relatable. There are times where the humans will do things that you, as a human, realize we do, and you'll understand how that could alienate somebody that isn't human.
Most of the characters have really fantastic arcs. Our main trio (Luca, Alberto, Giulia) all have character traits that are good and character traits that are bad. By the end, they have used their good traits to resolve their bad traits. They all have interesting set ups for characters and are all given time to develop so that you care about them. By the end, when everything pays off, you are satisfied with the way that each of the characters ends up.
The group dynamic between Luca, Alberto, and Giulia is great, too. Since they are all kids, they all have this deep bond and understanding of each other that the audience is invested in. Even though two of them are sea monsters, these relationships feel real. Everyone has had a group of friends like this, and it feels really nice to see them on screen together.
The finale also uses payoff and tension very well. There are tons of little lines and actions that take place throughout the events of the movie that have some kind of use in the finale. I always love it when films are able to do that. They also throw tension into the final segment. All of the plot lines that have been moving around during the film meet up during the finale, and it makes the last part surprisingly intense.
I also loved the use of water as a plot device to build tension. Since water is the only thing that can out Luca and Alberto as sea monsters, they use normal things as a way to keep the audience nervous for our characters' fates. Regular things like a fountain, rain, or spitting out water take on a whole new meaning in this movie. I absolutely adored that aspect of the movie.
The setting of this small Italian town was a really fun and delightful place to go. I love the way that the set is designed and the world is brought to life. There are a few recurring characters that appear in the town, and they are all fun and somewhat memorable. Most movies that have to do with Italy are about gangsters and hitmen and murder, but we get to see the charming side of the country with this tiny village.
Finally, there are some nice emotional moments in the back half of the film. I won't say anything, but there are two scenes in particular that really hit me. The first was heart-breaking and the second was bittersweet, but they were both great in their own right.
Unfortunately, I don't think that Luca cracked top-tier Pixar.
Pixar keeps trying to move on from sequels and stuff and try to make original movies, but Toy Story 3 and Incredibles 2 are my two favorite Pixar movies...and they are both sequels! Now, of course, Ratatouille, Coco, and Inside Out are all incredible films, but, recently, Pixar has been off their game with original movies.
One of the things I really didn't like about Luca was the villain. Ercole Visconti, the guy who drives up in a Vespa, was so forced into the film. They needed to add an extra layer of conflict, so they lazily threw in this terrible, terrible villain. He was outrageously annoying and strange. It's so weird that they would have an adult man who bullies kids. He literally punches Alberto at one point during the film. He was so distasteful and hateable, but not in a good way.
Another forced conflict was Luca's parents. Every twenty minutes or so, the film will cut away from the main story to show us Luca's parents doing the same thing to look for him. The scenes with them will last about a minute and then we will move back to the main plot. IT was so dumb to include them in the movie, and they don't really actually effect the events of the film. There's no payoff involving them, they don't really do anything at the end...they're just kind of there throughout the film.
The film also moves at a pretty slow pace. For a kids film, I feel like most kids will be relatively bored throughout the runtime. Since it's so slow, the movie feels extremely long. It's only an hour and thirty-five minutes, but they could probably take some meat off the bones and cut it down to under ninety minutes.
The alternative to that would be making this show into a TV series. The story feels somewhat episodic in nature, as you have Luca, Alberto, and Giulia going on these mini-adventures throughout. The culmination could be the race. I really think that this would be better as a five episode mini-series instead of a film. That way, you can get in all the character development and stuff that needs to happen without overstuffing the story.
The actual story is pretty mediocre. It follows a lot of plot beats that have been done in other, better films. It's almost like a mix between The Little Mermaid and Rocky. There's nothing that feels super fresh and inventive. The ending definitely felt earned and more original than the rest of the movie, but most of the film follows plot points that can be found in other movies.
I also did not find this film very funny at all. Most of the comedy fell very flat for me. Sometimes, I couldn't really tell if a line was supposed to be a joke or not. It was so strange how badly written the "comedic" lines were.
Analogy and Final Score
Rocky and The Little Mermaid are two delicious batches of sugar cookies. The baker of Luca decided to steal and combine the recipe of both of those batches to make what they thought would be a really good batch of cookies. However, the baker also decided he was going to make them chocolate chip instead of sugar cookies, so he added some chocolate chips.
The cookie itself is not nearly as good as Rocky and The Little Mermaid, but the chocolate chips enhance it and make it have a good aftertaste.
I think I will go Savory on Luca. Age range is 4+.
SWEET N' SOUR SCALE
Sweet (Great) Savory (Good)
Sour (Bad) Moldy (Terrible)
Fun Factor: 6.5/10
Acting: 7.5/10 Characters: 8.5/10
Directed by Enrico Casarosa
Rated PG for minor language and violence, disturbing themes, thematic elements
Released on June 18, 2021
1 hour and 35 minutes
Jacob Tremblay as Luca Paguro
Jack Dylan Grazer as Alberto Scorfano
Emma Berman as Giulia Marcovaldo
Saverio Raimondo as Ercole Visconti
Maya Rudolph as Daniela Paguro
Marco Barricelli as Massimo Marcovaldo
Jim Gaffigan as Lorenzo Paguro
Peter Sohn as Cicco
Lorenzo Crisci as Guido