Pixar’s Luca Introduces Younger Audiences to a Better World

Reader Rating0 Votes
A film truly easy for children to enjoy
Not as emotionally exhausting as other Pixar movies
Not as emotionally exhausting as other Pixar movies

With Coco, Pixar entered a new realm of animated story-telling. One that focused on merging the fantastical elements of cultural roots with the even more fantastical elements of folk tales, beliefs, and the stories that we grow up with and make us the people we are.

And Luca pushes those boundaries further. While the film isn’t necessarily as rooted in any specific cultural tradition like Coco’s Dia de Muertos, or even as traditionally driven as the Disney counterparts of Moana and Raya, Luca still succeeds in delivering a story that feels genuine to its Ligurian setting, while also delving into the larger-than-life elements of the region’s folklore.

Detailing the adventures of a pair of sea monster friends, Luca is driven by its titular character’s journey, stemming from his desire for adventure in the mysterious surface world of humans.

With its themes of wishful adventures, and (initial) romanticising of the human world, it’s easy to compare Luca to The Little Mermaid. Luca however, goes a step further of actually exploring the ideas of how desiring the aspects of a different life can also result in alienating oneself.

It may be a coincidence that Pixar/Disney has chosen to premiere this title amidst Pride Month, but it seems pretty uncanny that much of the film deals with self-image and the power of transitioning. From very early in its development phase, Luca had been considered Pixar’s “gay movie” and it seems fans may have predicted right.

While the target audience and general branding of Pixar may not have allowed the studio to do anything more explicit than Luca, the film is not shy in discussing its pro-self identity stance.

It’s perhaps not surprising that director, Enrico Casarosa, who found inspiration for the film in his own childhood in Italy, has been involved in Pixar’s recent culturally-inspired, fantasy-themed entries such as Coco, Onward, and Soul.

Luca, however, is his feature-length animated film debut. Even Casarosa’s previous directorial effort, 2011’s La Luna (which hit the big screens as an opening short for Brave in 2012) carries much of the same thematic notes and styles that are heavily present in Luca.

Casarosa’s upbringing in Genoa lends the whole movie a sincere tone of childlike wonder, uniquely standing out from Pixar’s/Disney’s similar entires by merit of the protagonists status as something other than your everyday human.

Where most films of such themes and genre often feature a human lead who is introduced to a world of awe and wonder, Luca turns that on its head by offering the inverse: that our otherwise mundane world may be fascinating to creatures of beyond who, like so many of us, desperately seek adventure in our adolescence.

While comparisons to The Little Mermaid and Coco are obvious, Luca sometimes feels almost like a spiritual successor to Finding Nemo, delving further into the idea of home being where the heart is.

While there is something to be said about Pixar’s retreading of themes—The Good Dinosaur is also not far from the mind with Luca—that the creative visionaries behind the film have found yet another compelling tale to convey these themes is a mark of Pixar’s every present power of story-telling.

Luca will be hitting Disney+ on the 18th of June!