Disney and Pixar unleash their latest animated tale in Luca. Enrico Casarosa makes his directorial debut with the film, which follows Luca Paguro (Jacob Tremblay), a 13-year-old sea monster who resides in the waters next to the Italian coast. Lucas spends his days herding goatfish with his parents Daniela (Maya Rudolph) and Lorenzo (Jim Gaffigan). However, as most teenagers would be, Luca is curious about the world above the sea.
One day, Luca meets the free-spirited, expressive and gregarious Alberto Scrofano (Jack Dylan Grazer), who is “all about having fun.” Alberto shows Luca the joys of the human world, which include gelato, pasta, and endless scooter rides. Once out of the water, the two can walk among humans, which adds to the film’s heart. Before long, the boys meet Giulia (Emma Berman), an outgoing and charming adventurer with a love of books and learning. She recruits the duo for the annual end-of-summer race.
However, what will happen when she discovers her teammates are sea monsters from another world just below the water’s surface?
Jesse Andrews and Mike Jones have constructed a safe coming of age story with Luca. Quite honestly, that is the beauty of the film. One of the things I loved about Luca is the studio’s decision to use actual teens to voice our lead characters. Audiences may recognize Jacob Tremblay’s voice from Wonder and Jack Dylan’s Grazer’s from the movie It. The two talented young thespians have a natural chemistry that kept a smile on my face for the film’s duration.
I also enjoyed newcomer Emma Berman as the boy’s new friend and the organic moxie she brings to the role. Much to my surprise, Luca does not feature an A-List talent voicing our villain. This decision may be because the studio did not want to ruffle any feathers as our primary big bad is the same age as our heroes. Nevertheless, I generally enjoyed Luca, and from what I can see, the film is autobiographical for director Enrico Casarosa.
I do have one minor complaint with the film. I found myself more invested with Luca and Alberto when they were human. In addition, I could have done without the sea monster’s angle. Nevertheless, Luca is a beautiful coming-of-age story that I highly recommended.
Final Grade: A-
Luca is streaming on Disney+ now.