Luca – Another Gem From Pixar

There is unlikely to be another film studio that will attain the consistent critical and commercial success that Pixar has attained over the years. They’ve tackled difficult subjects with confidence and success. They’ve set the standard for animated films that break box office records, proving that these huge quantities of tickets are not sold only to children. With echoes of “Finding Nemo,” both films grapple with  parental love and fear when their child ventures out of approved range, both set (at least initially) under the sea. 

We first see Luca ably handling his role in the family, herding fish. The first subtle joke to fly past the children in the audience is a reference to why the character Mona Lisa is smiling.

Lucas soon finds a way to leave the water, evolving from a sea monster to a human. His wide eyed wonder of his first Italian village is the case for the rest of us as well. Here, Cinque Terre is the model for the idyllic fictional seaside village of Portorosso. The town is sprinkled with many visual in-jokes, including classic Italian film posters, a reference to Pinocchio and the side characters Santo Pecorino in Santo Mozzarella. But the clever central motif is the freedom of the Vespa, to which Luca and his new found friend Alberto aspire.

The central cast is the trio of Jacob Tremblay as Luca Paguro, Jack Dylan Grazer as Alberto Scorfano and Emma Berman as Giulia Marcovaldo. Each is delightful. The cast is rounded out by Saverio Raimondo, Maya Rudolph, Marco Barricelli and Jim Gaffigan. Keeping everything well balanced is director Enrico Casarosa.

The latter section of the second act lags, and as the third act unfolds you have a lingering fear the whole story might collapse. 

But that does not occur. The threads are tied together with aplomb. 

Sacha Baron Cohen improbably gets the last word, as bloated Uncle Ugo, denizen of the deep dark sea. 

Pixar again knocks it out of the park.

Trailer available here.

Brad Auerbach has been a journalist and editor covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, SPIN, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.