Whether it’s my age quickly catching up with me, or it is as I believe Pixar are slowing losing their magic. Their latest feature Luca follows the animation studios’ recent projects of solid, family friendly entertainment but lacking to tell a bigger story. Similar criticisms I had with both Onward (2020) and Soul (2020).
Luca (Jacob Tremblay) is a ‘sea monster’. A creature that lives underwater with fishlike features but when reaching the surface disguises itself just like any other human being. Luca longs for adventure and when he meets Alberto (Jack Dylan Glazer), he begins to experience an adventure even he couldn’t dream of.
Unlike Alberto, Luca’s humanlike structure comes as a complete surprise when he reaches the shore of a quint little Italian town in which he has spent all of his life living underneath. Luca with the help of his new friend Alberto will discover new life ashore as the pair befriend the full spirited Giulia (Emma Berman), as she teaches them the ropes of living life above ground.
Pretty much everything that makes Luca a wonderfully vibrant and charming tale is how it maximises the landscape of its stunning setting. Portorosso is a fishing village located on the Italian Riviera and is accentuated by the sharp bright colours and the towns occupants, which has it beaming with life.
It has a sweet coming of age story with life changing friendships and personal growth as its key messages. Where previous Pixar projects have tackled broader and more unique narrative concepts, Luca takes a far more grounded approach with what story it chooses to tell. But with a sense of wonder and magic thrown in to keep the Pixar trademark in tact.
The voice acting (specifically from its child stars) is top standard Pixar. You can feel the energy from the youngsters pour out onto their 3D counterparts. Much of what’s on offer in Luca is in this aspect.
Luca is a reminder of those sun kissed summers as a child. Whether it’s travelling to somewhere as stunning as the Riviera or simply a cross country trip to previously undiscovered land, Luca is all about that adventure and finding the joy in the little things you begin to discover.
When pitted up against Pixar’s impressive back catalogue of powerhouse pictures however, Luca kind of feels like a fish out of water. It fails to reach that deep impact on an inspirational or emotional level. Something that was a staple for the company, certainly in its earlier days.
That’s not to say that their latest feature isn’t a success. Director Enrico Casarosa spends more than enough time on the bits that accentuate and almost mask the simplicity of its storytelling. Luca is one of the better looking films in Pixar’s repertoire. If not only recently, perhaps of the whole lot.
It’s sad that it only saw its release on Disney+ as apposed to being a welcoming treat back to the big screen. The visual splendour on display feels like a missed opportunity in that department, but this does little to effect the overall experience of the movie, as it is still a feast on the eyes.
Not quite the return to Pixar’s peak I was hoping, but still the charming and endearing experience I was expecting. Pleasant and easily engaging Luca will reach out to both kids and adults, perhaps for different reasons, but will leave you thoroughly entertained regardless.