Film Review – Luca (2021)

Title – Luca (2021) 

Director – Enrico Casarosa (feature debut) 

Cast – (voices of) Jacob Tremblay, Jack Dylan Grazer, Maya Rudolph, Sacha Baron Cohen

Plot – Young sea creature Luca (Tremblay) begins a friendship with fellow young boy Alberto (Grazer) as the two venture onto land in the Italian Riviera and disguise themselves as humans while setting their sites on winning a local Vespa race.    

“Where did you boys say you were from?”

Review by Eddie on 23/08/2021

For good reason the Pixar brand has become a name synonymous with the words quality and magical and while expectations on new outings from the Disney owned company can’t always be expected to be in line with the likes of Toy Story, Wall-E or Coco, the mediocrity of the animation behemoths newest adventure Luca comes as a shock to the system in more ways than one. 

Directed by first time feature length animation director Enrico Casarosa, who has previously worked on Pixar outings such as Coco and The Incredibles 2 in various roles, Luca lacks any of the charm, spark or fantastical goodness that many of its counterparts have had in abundance, as we are thrust into a story of friendship that has very few life lessons or reasons to engage in its narrative as Jacob Tremblay’s sea monster/human boy Luca finds himself on dry land with new found fellow friend and compatriot Alberto as the two wide eyed youngsters join together to find a Vespa scooter to frolic around town on. 

The Italian seaside village is certainly a colorful and energetic landscape for Casorosa and his creative team to explore in a visual sense but all the nicely animated set pieces and visually appeasing moments fail to make up for the lack of charm or spark elsewhere as we as an audience are thrust into Luca’s life and world with barely an ounce of set-up or refinement with Luca and Alberto’s childhood adventure far from quality Pixar storytelling. 

From everything from Monsters Inc learning to confront ones fears, Coco’s acceptance of death as well as life, Soul’s purposeful expose on what makes ones life special or Wall-E’s tale of love and friendship against all the odds, Pixar has long managed to make heartfelt animated tales that wonderfully mix together entertaining and emotionally poignant stories for young and old, whereas Luca feels like a film for nobody in particular with even young children likely to have grown tired by its repetitive feeling plot around the half way mark at best. 

Another key flaw to Luca’s inability to make strides is the fact that Luca, Alberto and all other characters that find themselves embedded into their Vespa infused tale aren’t at all engaging, there’s nothing memorable or special about any of these humans and creatures. In desperate need of a Woody, Buzz, Dory, Bing Bong or Sully, Luca’s failure to bring laughs or heart often stems from its poor narrative harboring bland characters, characters that are unlikely to be remembered in the months or years to come. 

Final Say – 

It’s colorful and well-intentioned but Luca is one of Pixar’s bigger missteps in a mostly grand history of great produce. Unlikely to be spoken about by anyone in the soon to be future, this is an animated offering even the most easy to please of Disney fans can skip. 

2 record players out of 5  

10 responses to “Film Review – Luca (2021)

  1. I can definitely understand your disappointment. I ended up in the end recommending Luca but barely. There’s a lot we’re used to from Pixar that was just left out. The impression I got was the movie had an LGBT subtext of the boys having to hide their sea monster identity, and then eventually finding acceptance and love from the full humans. That message, of accepting others who may be or seem different, charmed me just enough for a recommendation, but there was a lot that was flat-out missing.

    • Yeh for a Pixar film mate I felt like it really lacked any of that magic you expect too find. Overall there was nothing here I found memorable at all.

  2. Oh, too bad you didn’t like it. I really enjoyed it, and I also admired the fact Pixar – for once – opted to make a simple movie, without “thematic gimmicks” or messages for adults. But simple is not the same as good, so I understand why you didn’t like it.

    • I think that is a great point you make Matt about sometimes Pixar maybe trying to go too deep with their projects and add a whole layer of meaning that didn’t need to be there.
      Problem for me with this film was it wasn’t funny, fun, inventive and the characters were all totally unmemorable. I’m all for fun without deeper meaning, but this film was just bland.

  3. I don’t remember the last Pixar film I saw in a movie theatre (might have been Up). I don’t remember the last Pixar film I saw on DVD. Judging soley on the promo art I’ve seen of Luca, it’s not something that piques my interest. It actually just makes me think of Suzanne Vega’s song: my name is Luka, I live on the second floor, I live upstairs from you, yes I think you’ve seen me before. If you hear something late at night, some kind of trouble, some kind of fight, just don’t ask me what it was, just don’t ask me what it was.

  4. I cannot agree with you more. This animation was such a disappointment for me because I clearly saw the director’s good intentions and love for Italy, etc. I don’t think I remember much from it now (there was hardly any plot) and I am still amazed how forgettable it all was.

    • I feel like the name Pixar gives some of their lesser films an automatic hall pass. I honestly can’t recall one truly memorable or noteworthy aspect of this film. The setting is certainly one of if not the biggest bright spots in a really lifeless film.

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