Luca ★★★★

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On the Italian Riviera, an unlikely but strong friendship grows between a human being and a sea monster disguised as a human.

I will start with the fact (technically opinion) that LUCA is not the next Pixar masterpiece. It isn’t as existential as Soul or as thought-provoking as Inside Out. It is simply pure coming-of-age fun, and I am completely on board for that when Pixar is involved. Coco definitely does it better, but this time we get to dip our toes into Italian waters. While I am not an expert on the culture, I do believe it is showcased fairly well. What works even better is the banter and overall friendship between our two (really three) heroes. The voice-work is excellent, as this cast is stunning across the board, but the dialogue is what allows the film to flow so well.

These two young boys feel so real, as both have been through their fair share of hardships. Luca is currently trying to figure out why he has been so curious about the world beyond the ocean, and Alberto is attempting to reel him into this adventure. It is your conventional story on its surface, but it works so well because of the execution at first. The film does begin to dip just a bit around the halfway point. Because we are never heading in that change-the-game Pixar direction, the film becomes too content with its tropes. The back and forth is solid, but it never really leads us to anything truly impactful when we reach the climax. The finale itself is excellent, but the action-heavy portion feels like an episode that I have seen before. It is still a ton of fun, and kids are going to love this movie, but part of me expected something with a tad more depth.

This “fish out of water” story has been done over and over, and we expect Pixar to spin it in a new direction, but it is also so tough to compare this film to certain other masterpieces. Just judging it on its own makes it obvious to me that the heart is absolutely there, even if the overall story never quite turns that corner. I’m not sure why I feel compelled to defend my enjoyment here, as I did genuinely have a great and easy time watching this. It flies by, as the pacing is awesome. I imagine my younger cousins having a wonderful time watching this, and it is definitely a film built for kids and families to enjoy. There is something here for everyone, and the simple story of friendship is one that will resonate with many.


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