Enrico Casarosa’s Luca is an uplifting animated movie exploring the ideas of change and acceptance. The film’s beautiful animation almost pulls the the audience into the screen through its immense detailing, drawing the audience’s attention to even the smallest blade of grass that is beautifully and realistically crafted. The film initially floats us through the Ligurian Sea atop a boat with fisherman as they move through the moonlighted sea, as a scaled creature, sneakily and strategically grabs and steals items from the boat, the creature is spotted and the fishermen throw a net in the water almost capturing the creature but it luckily was able to escape. This scene perfectly captures the current relationship between the sea creatures and the humans, they both hold a sense of miscommunication and lack of understanding, having these gaps of unknown emotions and intentions leaves both parties ultimately scared of each other. Another local sea monster named Luca Paguro (Jacob Tremblay), returns back home at the bottom of the sea where his family resides from feeding the fishes. We are then immediately thrown into the family dynamics of a mom who is firm, but ultimately wants what’s best for her child, but in doing so prevents them from experiencing valuable moments, a lenient dad and a grandma who slyly encourages Luca to explore life beyond the sea. Having his mom constantly reminding him to not go to the land had incited a lot of curiosity in Luca but also narrowed his understanding of humans.
One afternoon, Luca meets Alberto Scorfano (Jack Dylan Grazer), a fellow sea creature, the interaction quite shocking to Luca as Alberto has led him onto the land which serves as a pinnacle point in Luca’s journey to breaking barriers and understanding humans. Luca realizes, once dry, that he is human. This realization sparks complete shock in Luca and he returns home. Luca, overwhelmed with curiosity, wants to go to the surface again, where he starts to slowly kindle a friendship with Alberto. The two soon embark on a series of misadventures with one another as Alberto foolishly teaches Luca a lot of what he knows. They share a dream of owning a vespa, using that as motivation to swim to the mainland where they go on an aimless journey through Cinque Terre to find a vespa and live their dream of riding on the vespa together through fields.
They end up going on an exhilarating and liberating swim towards the mainland making the audience feel every note of glee and triumphancy of the characters through the amazing portrayal of those feelings in the animation. Making it to the town of Porterosso safely they begin their journey to find a vespa, where they figure out a way to make enough money to buy one is through winning the local contest, and beat the long reigning champion with extremely poor sportsmanship, Ercole Visconti (Saverio Raimondo), alongside new friend Giulia Marcovaldo (Emma Berman), a bold, strong-willed and determined girl. Through this journey of working towards a goal together, learning more about each other and learning to face adversity and change, Luca and Alberto have to keep their secret safe.
Although this movie is a beautiful story of growth, the pacing at some points of the film was a bit quick, and could have been expanded more in certain areas of the plot and dive deeper into some adversities to make the triumphant parts even more worthwhile. The emotions and themes of friendship, fear and overcoming barriers may make one laugh and then pull a tear or two, but in the end leaves one fairly fulfilled with their viewing experience. For those reasons this film is amazing for a movie night that may leave everyone watching with teary eyes and hopefully teaching viewers the importance of understanding and welcoming one another.
Luca premiered on June 18 and is available to stream on Disney+ and select theatres.