Luca ★★★★

Pixar has been metaphorically typecasting themselves, and Luca, with its seemingly effortless, laid-back hangout vibe, feels like a refreshing rejuvenation of the studio's potential. For about a decade now, Pixar's virtually unmatched world-building skills and beautifully realized characterizations were predictably leading to the same kind of climactic moment in every movie the studio would release: no matter how unique each project, they have all been designed to elicit a very specific, and ultimately emotionally similar, sentimentality. And while films like Coco and Soul are deeply moving and some of my favorite things Pixar has ever made, Luca feels like a break from this formulaic success, rather like it was molded by human hands.

The town of Portorossa feels like a living and credible place, populated by all sorts of memorable characters - from two ladies with a mysterious secret, to Giulia's father (and his mustachioed cat), and of course, the nasty Ercole. It feels joyous and alive down to its very structure, as close to hand-drawn animation as a computer animated film has ever come. The movie has its emotional moments of course, but instead of feeling like the teary-eyed climax was the film's intent all along, it feels completely as though it is a natural progression on the characters journeys of self-discovery. It may not be Pixar's most powerful work, but it is one that shows the studio is still more than capable of telling familiar stories in fresh and inventive ways. Pixar might just be entering a new golden age.

original review

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