The Reel Review
Some unlikely friendships occur when a sea monster named Luca (Jacob Tremblay) discovers he can turn into a human when on land, in this Disney/Pixar animated family adventure on Disney+. This coming of age story is based on co-writer/director Enrico Casarosa’s own childhood friendship with a non-conformist boy in Cinque Terra.
This literal fish out of water tale, with nods to The Little Mermaid and Call Me By Your Name, is a charming ode both to celebrating differences and to Italian culture, with cute animation and a supporting voice cast that includes Maya Rudolph, Jim Gaffigan and Sacha Baron Cohen. Jack Dylan Glazer (IT, Shazam) and Emma Berman provide the voices of Luca’s friends Alberto and Giulia.
Luca is a visually pleasing but emotionally slight film when compared to such Oscar-winning Pixar powerhouses as Coco, Toy Story 3, Inside Out and most recently, Soul. It’s cute but lacks depth. Its ending is a sweet one however, making it a fine addition to the Pixar portfolio.
• The town of Portorosso in Luca is a nod to Japanese director Hayao Miyazawi’s 1992 film Porco Rosso, which director Enrico Casarosa says was an inspiration for his story.
• Many Pixar employees have expressed their displeasure at Disney for skipping a theatrical run and releasing Luca straight to the Disney+ streaming platform without a paywall.
• Filmed during the COVID-19 pandemic, Jack Dylan Grazer performed his voice tracks from inside his mother’s closet, the only room in the family house with the necessary acoustics.