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Luca (2021)


Luca is the latest Disney Pixar animated film, and it is on Disney+ without premier access. Enrico Casarosa wrote and directed Luca after being given those roles for La Luna. Luca is a coming-of-age story about a ‘sea monster’ that turns human when out of the water. The film also confronts the emotional challenges that parents face as their children grow and venture away from home. It sounds like another opportunity for Pixar to pull tears from your eyes with ease, but in practice, this film is less emotional than other Pixar films.

Pixar exists on a pedestal due to how great many of its prior films were. I did not connect with Soul and Onward was very forgettable. I fear that Luca falls into this lesser category. The film is set in a small, isolated, seaside, Italian village and feels very compact as a result. You might expect a film about sea monsters to be able to explore the vast Mediterranean Sea, but instead, the film takes place above water.

There are comedic elements sprinkled throughout including a montage of Luca’s parents dunking and dousing the children of the village in water to try and find Luca. The villain is a boy of indeterminate age that is one dimensional in his ambitions to defend a local triathlon trophy. He is so full of himself that he expects people to be entertained just by him eating a sandwich. He may bring some contrast of stunted emotional growth that Luca is pursuing, but that requires reading between a lot of lines.

I have been disappointed with the last few Pixar films, but that may be because of their epic history. Looking through the Pixar catalog there have never been three disappointing, for Pixar standards, movies in a row. I hope that Luca, Onward, and Soul are not what we can come to expect. Pixar is at its best when audiences of all ages are brought to tears and Luca just did not deliver the waterworks.

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