It took me a bit to watch Luca, I admit. As I mentioned in a previous blog, I’ve become a bit jaded toward Disney and Pixar since all of their latest films seemed to be recycled or uninspired content. Like Encanto, I was pleasantly surprised. Other reviews said it was good, but I was skeptical, but this movie was good – cute. It captured the childhood innocence of learning new concepts and exploration outside of life with your family, and it was refreshing.
It’s been a while since the film came out, so I want to recap the plot. The film takes place in a 1950s fishing town in Italy. At its core, Luca is about two boys (our protagonist Alberto and Luca) trying to win the Portoross Cup, a children’s triathlon, to buy a Vespa and travel the world. As the movie progresses, that changes, of course. Luca and Alberto have some apparent challenges because they’re sea monsters. This makes them unfamiliar with human culture and customs, leading to hilarious moments of them saying “what’s wrong with you, estupido” as a greeting to everyone they meet. They get into some ill-informed hijinks when they meet and befriend Giulia, the third protagonist of the story.
The three of them are the underdogs of the story, and honestly, it’s very relatable. Each trio member reminded me of myself to some degree as I grew up. Watching Giulia explain why she and, by extension, the boys were underdogs took me back to my childhood and remembering my cringy oversharing. Giulia is a sweet, excited kid. She is awkward but full of optimism, which encapsulates childhood’s essence. She is determined to win the Portorosso Cup to knock the ego of the story’s antagonist, Ercole (a too old man child), down a notch. It was fantastic watching her stand up for herself and others and hones in that she has a heart of gold and is a good kid. For me, it reminds me of people in my past that would do that for someone without hesitation.
I know I went out of order on discussing the characters, but Giulia was such a delight. But I digress; Luca was equally enjoyable to watch. He embodies childhood innocence, wonderment, and the joys of exploration. He wants to do more and see more but is afraid and uncertain at first. Due to familial disapproval, Luca is initially timid to step out of his comfort zone, even though he is wildly curious about some forbidden action. But ultimately, he takes that step and journeys into a new phase of his life while unwittingly ushering in a new beginning for the town of Portorosso and the sea monsters. Similarly, growing up, when you take the next step in life, even if it seems daunting, it could be for the better, even if you’re uncertain about it.
Last but not least, let’s talk about Alberto. At first, he comes off with a semi-abrasive personality – seemingly a know-it-all, but a very wrong one. You get the vibe that something may seem a little off with him since he’s a fellow sea monster and lives on land in a decaying castle. It’s easy to overlook as he has a carefree, happy-go-lucky attitude. Still, every time his dad is mentioned, his tone changes ever so slightly, alerting that more than meets the eye with this boy. As the film progresses, he appears jealous, argumentative, and even hostile toward Giulia when Luca expresses interests outside of getting the Vespa to travel the world. Once Luca and Alberto fight, it’s revealed that Alberto has abandonment issues – and rightfully so. His dad abandoned him because he thought Alberto was “old enough to be on [his] own.” At this point, he confides himself and concedes that he feels Luca and everyone else is better off without him. Honestly? Same. I think most people probably have felt that way at one point or another. I still battle these feelings though I know they’re irrational. By the end of this, though, I just wanted to hug him because he needed it; I needed it. That moment was a punch right in the feels.
Luca does a great job manipulating your emotions to get you to feel what the writers want you to feel. There is more I want to discuss (think music, animation, plot), but for the sake of keeping this blog post short, I am going to end it here for now. Stay tuned for the second half of the review next week!