To expand upon my quick thoughts in the video, Luca is a computer-animated coming-of-age fantasy film produced by Pixar. The film is directed by Enrico Casarosa (in his feature-length directorial debut) and features the voice talents of Jacob Tremblay, Jack Dylan Grazer, Emma Berman, Marco Barricelli, Saverio Raimondo, Maya Rudolph, Jim Gaffigan, and Sacha Baron Cohen. Set on the fictional seaside Italian town of Portorosso in the late 1950s, the film centers on Luca Paguro, a sea monster boy with dreams of going to the surface. One day he meets another sea monster boy named Alberto Scorfano who lives on the surface in an abandoned lighthouse. Quickly they become best friends and run away to explore Portorosso. After meeting the human girl Giulia Marcovaldo, the trio experience a life-changing summer.
Casarosa does a fantastic job directing this film. You can tell the story felt very personal to him, even stating that he took inspiration from his childhood growing up in Genoa, Italy. The film is also very much a spiritual sequel to his 2011 short film La Luna, which is set in Genoa. The voice acting is very well captured in this film and everyone does a great job embodying the spirit of their characters. The accents were also well done which is striking since the film only has a few Italian voice actors in main roles.
The look of the film is quite different from your typical Pixar animation. The characters look more like clay models and the animations mimic that of stop-motion films. This makes the film look a lot better than your average Pixar computer-animated film albeit different than something you’d see from a Laika production. The buildings and vehicles are also a bit more normal looking as opposed to wildly cartoonish. Clearly drawing inspiration from real seaside Italian towns and fishing ports. The people however do have some exaggerated features and body shapes you normally get in animation. The design was also inspired by Hayao Miyazaki’s hand-drawn style featured in Studio Ghibli films. The town of Portorosso is even a pun on the 1982 animated film Porco Rosso, which was directed by Miyazaki.
The story is far more simple than most other films Pixar has done in the past similar to The Good Dinosaur. While there is a villain, he does not have a major impact on the lives of any main characters and is basically there for them to have competition in the triathlon they enter. We basically follow our protagonists as they enjoy a summer in the human world. Also, while there is some semblance of time, we don’t quite know exactly how much time took place from beginning to end. The sea monsters being a metaphor for feeling different and hiding who you are to fit in should have been more front and center. That brings up the only major issue in the film: we don’t get enough information about the day-to-day lives of the sea monsters. Luca is clearly some kind of sea shepherd and Alberto is an orphan. We never find out how they can turn into humans or why they are so afraid of humans. We never see humans hunting them or killing them. Also, the sea monsters clearly have Italian names, but don’t truly understand the Italian language. This indeed brings up more questions once we get to the finale and find out about Luca’s next adventure. Lastly, Italy is very well known for its delicious pasta dishes and we barely get a mention of their cuisine. Would have been nice to see more reactions to the sea monsters eating a lot more than plain pasta and gelato. None of this takes away from how rich the film is in other areas but would have definitely helped it come together better.
This world is rich with ideas and characters that I would love to see explored in a sequel film or animated show on Disney+ at the end of the day. I give Luca a Decent 8.5/10. It’s not Pixar’s best film, but it is definitely their best-looking film.