A still shot from Disney/Pixar’s “Luca,” which debuts on Disney+ on Friday, June 18, 2021. (Disney/Pixar)
PORTOROSO — The days seem to be getting hotter and hotter, and you may be looking for an excuse to stay inside with the family.
But in order to beat the heat, you need something to keep you busy. Disney and Pixar hope they have the answer for you in their latest movie, “Luca.” The film tells the story of two sea monsters and their unlikely friendship as they change into humans on dry land on the Italian Riviera.
While I don’t consider “Luca” to be one of Pixar’s best, it is a fun night with the family. Here are a few reasons why.
A talented voice acting cast
Stunning visuals and a fun story are essential in making a great Pixar movie, but we can’t forget how important voice acting is — and “Luca” has a great cast.
The three leads are all kids and Jacob Tremblay, Jack Dylan Grazer and Emma Berman are absolutely fantastic. You may recognize Tremblay from films like “Room” and “Wonder,” while Grazer has become a familiar face thanks to “It,” “It Chapter 2” and “Shazam!” Berman, on the other hand, is relatively unknown, but she brings the rambunctious and free-spirited Giulia to life.
The three young actors are infectious and have fantastic comedic timing, which results in characters that you connect with and a story you’re invested in.
It’s a simple, yet fun premise
Pixar is known for bringing heady concepts to life in a visual spectacle. They took us inside our inner thoughts in “Inside Out,” into the cosmic beyond in “Soul” and into the afterlife in “Coco,” but “Luca” is much simpler, and I appreciated that.
At its core, “Luca” is about growing up and how friendships and family ties are tested in the pursuit of finding your place in the world. There happens to be some shape-shifting sea monsters involved, but beyond that, “Luca” is really a movie of a bunch of kids running around a small island on their bikes while enjoying some gelato.
There was something refreshing about the straightforward approach to the film. I absolutely love “Inside Out,” “Soul” and “Coco” and think their approach to visualizing those complex concepts was nothing short of stunning. But “Luca” reminded me that the simplest of storylines can still make a big impact when done the right way.
Missing something to make it one of the greats
This will sound like more of a knock on the film than it should, but there was something missing about “Luca” that I am having trouble putting my finger on.
I don’t know if some of the relationships evolved too quickly, or if the film abandoned the underwater world too early, but it didn’t seem as rich and full as some of Pixar’s other efforts.
The closest film I could compare this one to is “Coco,” which, as I mentioned earlier, I think is an absolutely brilliant film. “Luca” was taking a similar approach but fell a little short in comparison to its predecessor. “Coco” felt full and robust with plenty of fun and color to it. “Luca,” on the other hand, is not wanting for fun or color but doesn’t feel quite as satisfying.
Is it worth watching?
When the credits rolled, I felt like “Luca” was lacking a little something. But whatever that something was, it wasn’t enough to turn me off the film.
More importantly, it did entertain my kids to no end. My 10-year-old, 8-year-old and 5-year-old were invested from the first frame and insisted I watch through to the end of the credits, which paid off thanks to an insignificant but funny post-credits scene.
“Luca” is rated PG for rude humor, language, some thematic elements, and brief violence. The movie will be streaming on Disney+ at no extra cost to existing members starting Friday.