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‘Luca’ review

David Eckstein-Schoemann, Reporter

It’s the latest Pixar film to hit Disney Plus. “Luca” has been winning praise from both audiences and critics, so where does that leave people like me? Well, let’s look at the story.

The film centers on a sea monster named Luca, a sea monster who spends his day herding fish that leaves him bored. His boredom is interrupted when he comes across another young sea monster named Alberto, who reveals that when a sea monster comes onto dry land they transform into humans, and turn back when wet. Slowly but surely Luca and Alberto strike up a friendship, as they plan to do all sorts of things on the surface, particularly getting a Vespa which they would use to go wherever they want. Eventually, Luca’s parents find out and try to have Luca sent away for fear of the surface. Luca instead runs away with Alberto to the nearby town of Portorosso where they come across all sorts of characters, while they plan to get their Vespa and keep their identities hidden.

Courtesy of Disney Platform Distribution.

With a synopsis like this, it’s pretty easy to see what this story is about and what directions it will go in. You can tell that they want to create a meaningful narrative for kids as it deals with values such as staying true to yourself, finding pride in your background, and sharing it with people even though some will not accept it. These are some really great messages, though this ranks in the lower twenty Pixar films for me. This is not to say the movie is bad, it’s far from it. It’s just that my issues reside in the narrative. 

I will admit I wasn’t excited at first because it was dealing a lot with the tropes I was all too familiar with. You have the fish out of water, the parents who have to be convinced, the one-dimensional bully, the temporary breakup between friends so that they can get back together in the climax. Basically tropes that I’ve seen all too often. 

While all that is true, I do understand why these elements are here as it’s hard to tell a story like this without these ideas. I also have to acknowledge that a lot of people like this type of story as it allows them to relate and feel like the main characters. If I were a kid and I saw this for the first time, I’d most likely feel the same way. While the story isn’t the most original, it does create this wondrous summer feel that’s very reminiscent of childhood. The best way I can describe it is that it’s like films like “The Sandlot” or “Stand By Me.” Both are films that center on kids, have familiar ideas and setups, but still contain meaningful morals that keep you invested. That’s how I feel about this movie. A slice of life, albeit with a few outlandish elements.

Despite how I feel towards the narrative, the technicals involved are still top-notch. The voice acting is really good here, all the kid actors are great. As expected from any Pixar film, the animation looks amazing particularly on the sea monsters whenever they transform. You can practically see every piece of skin transform; it looks so detailed. The town itself also stands out as it looks like something out of a Miyasaki film. This makes sense as they named it Portorosso which is an obvious nod to the Ghibli film “Porco Rosso”. 

All in all, I had a good time with this one. I feel like the film could have been stronger had it made a few original narrative choices along the way. With that said, the cast is great, the animation is spectacular, and it has morals that anyone can identify with. That’s more than anyone can ask for.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Sails

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