Every time Disney-Pixar releases a new movie it’s a cause for celebration, and audiences who are looking for a quintessential getaway in the sun will be very glad for their latest entry, Luca, which charts an incredible story of friendship and what it means to belong.
On the Italian Riviera, an unlikely but strong friendship grows between a human being and a sea monster disguised as a human.
Longtime Disney-Pixar creative Enrico Casarosa makes his directorial debut with Luca, an exceptionally personal film about friendship and acceptance set amidst the sun and fun of the Italian Riveria and the resulting narrative makes for an exceptionally charming film. Calling on the memories of his youth, Casarosa crafts a story about two mismatched outcasts, Luca Paguro and Alberto Scorfano, who just so happen to secretly be sea monsters, and who decide that it’s time to explore all the curiosities that exist up on the land. And with these two distinctly different characters Casarosa sets out to tell a heart-warming story that examines the true meaning of friendship and there’s plenty to love in this film.
Finding a great pair of young acting talent in the form of Jacob Tremblay as Luca and Jack Dylan Grazer as Alberto, Casarosa realises this story of two very opposite characters who decide to break a few rules and explore the surface world together. As Luca, Tremblay is curious, if not a little bit shy, and it’s through Grazer’s Alberto, an extremely extroverted troublemaker that these two teenage sea monsters get up to all kinds of mischief together. Both Tremblay and Grazer complement each other perfectly as these opposite characters and they certainly take audiences along for a very fun ride in this one.
As a viewing experience, Luca is exceptionally beautiful to look upon and Casarosa brings his artistic talents to the screen in all their glory with these splendid visuals. With a style that appears to be influenced by classic children’s storybook illustration, Luca is an utterly beautiful film to behold, and the sun-kissed landscape of Portorosso makes for a radiant playground for Luca, Alberto and their new human friend Giulia to explore. The CGI is exceptional here, and Casarosa showcases a storytelling style that is very much in keeping with the likes of the great Federico Fellini and pays homage to his Italian heritage.
One thing that I loved about Luca was just how much comedy was present throughout the film. Casarosa and his team bring out a real slapstick style of comedy within the animation and it leads to plenty of surprises. Paired with some wickedly funny situational humour, that derives from both the landscape and the fact that Luca and Alberto will go to any length to hide the fact that they are sea monsters from the residents of this fishing town, Luca is sure to give you all the giggles. For peak comedy enjoyment I have to give it to the presence of Giulia’s pet cat Machiavelli who knows there’s something fishy about Luca and Alberto and who won’t quite let it go.
But alongside the hijinks and mischief are the core elements of this story, and Luca examines deep themes of friendship and just want it means to be different and the desire to be accepted. As sea monsters, Luca and Alberto are radically different from the residents of Portorosso and this ever threat of discovery leads them to go to extreme lengths to protect their identities, which actively places their friendship in a difficult place. But only through accepting who they really are can they actively find their place in this world. This message of looking inward and not just accepting people at face value is an important one that we must never forget and Casarosa presents it in a way that will truly resonate with audiences.
Utterly beautiful to look at and possessed of a charming narrative, Luca is a wonderful new addition to the Disney-Pixar library and audiences of all ages will be sure to fall in love with this one.
Image: Walt Disney Pictures