Set in a beautiful seaside town on the Italian Riviera, Luca shares an adventurous summer with his newfound best friend, but all the fun is threatened by a deeply-held secret: he is a sea monster from another world just below the water’s surface.
Luca proves that Pixar’s stories are always rooted in family appeal, charm, and emotional truth. Though it’s not as revelatory as Inside Out, Coco, and Soul, it would be unfair to dismiss it solely for that reason. It provides a sweet story about differences and compassion, though that may be the main aspect that draws similarities to other animated films like Finding Nemo and The Little Mermaid, especially the idea of a young character wanting to leave the nest to the disapproval of an overprotective parent. The strongest aspect of the story is the innocence of the main characters, such as their friendships, heart, and aspirations. The purity of childhood is beautifully depicted and draws parallels to the feels of old Italian cinema. Jacob Tremblay and Jack Dylan Grazer deliver great voice performances and their parts’ friendship beautifully anchors the story. Maya Rudolph, who was also wonderful in the 2021 Netflix animated film The Mitchells vs the Machines, seems to never do wrong and here plays Luca’s sea creature mother. Be on the lookout for a special voice cameo in the first act from a beloved star that you may or may not miss. The characters are ones to root for, and their wonder and awe of the world around them is such a fun part. Whenever Luca must face his fears, he goes “Silenzio, Bruno!” to silence the voice inside of him that tells him he can’t, a relatable message for all of his. The animation of the Italian settings is terrific, although the character designs feel more 2-dimensional than Pixar’s previous films. The musical score by Dan Romer is the highlight of the productional values and even warrants an Oscar nomination if you ask me. The movie keeps bringing new situations, sometimes obstacles they must face and sometimes humor — both situations and details off to the side that will make you laugh. Ultimately at all culminates in another heartwarming story that feels exactly like what we all need right now — no matter your age — presenting many themes to children in a positive light that won’t ever feel exclusively for kids either, as Pixar excels at making stories that fit every audience’s desires without exception.