Starring: Jacob Tremblay, Jack Dylan Grazer, Emma Berman
Director: Enrico Casarosa
Running Time: 95 mins
Luca is an American film about a young sea monster who, when surfacing on dry land, turns into a human boy. Wanting to move away from his home under the sea, he travels to a seaside town with his friend on a life-changing adventure.
While it’s not exactly the most groundbreaking film to come from Pixar, Luca is one of those gorgeous harks back to carefree childhood that you can’t help but adore. Featuring gorgeous animation as ever, great voice performances, a heart of gold and passionate homages to films of yesteryear, Luca is a simple albeit irresistible delight.
Let’s start with the obvious: the animation. It seems repetitive to say it but Pixar once again knock it out of the park with the animation here, giving a sweet and vibrant depiction of the sun-baked Italian coast, with a little more cartoonish tendencies than some of their more weighty productions.
One of the reasons for those more cartoonish tendencies is that Luca, for the most part, is meant to be a simpler film. Never destined to hit the emotionally staggering heights of Inside Out, Up, Coco, Finding Nemo, the Toy Story movies and more, this film forges its own little path.
Taking clear inspiration from the films of Hayao Miyazaki for its setting and tone, Luca is a soul-cleansing adventure that’s reminiscent of some of the most therapeutic Studio Ghibli films, from Kiki’s Delivery Service to My Neighbour Totoro, Whisper Of The Heart and more.
Complete with a fascination for an idyllic vision of post-war Italy like Miyazaki so often played with in his films, Luca is as close to Ghibli as Pixar has ever been, and it makes for an utterly delightful watch.
For me, Luca isn’t anywhere near as spectacular or memorable as some of Pixar’s best, but the film does away with a lot of the Hollywood spectacle in exchange for something much more mellow, and much more sweet, with a tender coming-of-age tale told in wonderfully heartfelt fashion.
Complete with a trio of delightful voice performances from Jacob Tremblay, Jack Dylan Grazer and Emma Berman, the film is a sure-fire joy for younger viewers, and does a good – albeit not outstanding – job at bringing a nice sense of nostalgia to the table for older viewers.
Again, its relatively shallow emotional resonance means that the film never hits home quite as hard as you might expect from Pixar, though I still must admit that I had a little tear in my eye from time to time.
So, while it’s not the greatest film from a studio with the highest of high standards, Luca is still an absolute joy, and a film to really warm your heart with its sun-baked setting, heartfelt story and gorgeous animation. So, that’s why I’m giving it a 7.5 overall.