Pixar has grown so much over the last couple decades. From straight up humor and wild adventures ala monsters university and cars to tugging at your heartstrings with films like Up, Toy Story 3, and Coco, they’ve shown continuously that they can make animated as powerful as live action. Luca fits in more on the humor/adventure side…and that is just fine with me.
While it starts off like a sort of Finding Nemo meets The Little Mermaid, thankfully that’s where the comparison ends. Taking the fish out of water story to new and literal heights (or depths), this story is about a young sea monster boy named Luca. He is a boy with a curious heart who is stuck at home tending to his family’s “sheep.” While he is nervous and scared about going to the surface because of all the things his parents repeatedly tell him, he is finally convinced by another young sea monster to finally surface. What follows is a completely hilarious transformation. Watching Luca attempt to walk, discovering the sun, and something as simple as gravity for the first time, (oh, and pasta…lots and lots of pasta) makes for a riot of a “rebirth.”
This is a relatively light hearted story unlike some of Pixar’s previous outings (Up anyone?) and that’s absolutely fine. Deeply emotional and powerful story lines will always have their place, even in the Pixar canon of films. But some of their best films can also be some of their less serious, more humorous, adventure stories. Every Pixar film does have an underlying theme to it and this one is no different. From learning to let go and move on in Toy Story 4, and embracing and remembering the importance of family in Coco, Luca deals with embracing what is new even if it can be uncomfortable and outright scary at times. Because in the end, the scariest things can also be the most beautiful things.
We all know the quality of Pixar films. No need to go down that road again and beat it to death. Pixar is great and almost every proceeding film builds on the last and improves in quality (with the exception of a few). I don’t think Pixar missed a single color on the spectrum in this film. Both universes above and below the surface are completely vibrant, from the depths of the ocean to the bright Italian neighborhoods. It completely adds to and embraces its light hearted nature and evokes a fun, childlike nostalgia of getting together with friends and doing stuff that may not have been the smartest but is something you’ll remember for the rest of your life.
I found myself loving this film and it’s simple overall story of growing up with friends and having those summertime adventures that you’ll remember forever. There is virtually nothing about it that is overly heavy, dark, or serious. Just kids doing what kids do, and that is why I think families will enjoy this. And now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to start a pot of Kraft Mac and Cheese and take my Vespa for a ride around the block. Sound weird? Watch the movie and you’ll get it.