On the Italian Riviera, an unlikely but strong friendship grows between a human being and a sea monster disguised as a human.
Pixar have such a stellar record of producing the highest quality animated movies that any time they fall short of excellence it stands out more noticeably. That is the case with ‘Luca’, their latest effort, which feels like it borrows elements from better Pixar movies without managing to craft something wholly interesting in its own right. It follows a trend within recent Pixar movies of trying to depict different cultures with varying degrees of success, the good (‘Coco’, Mexico) and the less good (‘Brave’, Scotland), and this falls more in the ‘Brave’ camp.
Set in the Italian Riviera, it tells the story of the titular Luca, a sea creature who has the ability to assume human form on land (hello ‘The Little Mermaid’). Alongside his best friend Alberto, he starts to spend more time on land and longs to be accepted amongst the human population. That poses a challenge in Portorosso where sea monsters are feared and form part of a lot of local myths, a challenge that Luca is initially reluctant to take on. Ultimately it’s a movie about acceptance and whilst the message is absolutely worthy, it’s delivered with less nuance than we’ve come to expect from Pixar. If I had to pick one word to describe ‘Luca’ I’d say it was safe, which isn’t something I’d generally associate with Pixar.
It goes without saying that the visuals are incredible and almost photo realistic at times, and there is good voicework from Jacob Tremblay as Luca in particular. There’s a good deal of charm in the movie, from the quaint setting to the likeable characters, but this feels like very minor Pixar and I thought it had little going on under the surface (ironically enough), which is usually where Pixar animations stand out against their contemporaries.
Directed By: Enrico Casarosa
Starring: Jacob Tremblay, Jack Dylan Grazer, Emma Berman, Saverio Raimondo, Maya Rudolph, Jim Gaffigan, Marco Barricelli, Peter Sohn, Sacha Baron Cohen, Marina Massironi and Sandy Martin