Hey readers! I’m back with your Friday Film Forecast. This week I’ll be reviewing Enrico Casarosa’s 2021 animated film, “Luca.”
“Luca” is a story of two sea monsters who can disguise themselves as humans when outside of the water. The pair, Luca and Alberto, adventure into a small Italian town in the hopes of winning a race and using the prize money to buy a Vespa, an Italian luxury scooter.
Luca, voiced by Jacob Tremblay, lives in the ocean off of an Italian Riviera with his mom, dad and grandma. Luca works on his family’s underwater farm, where one day he finds a clock and a playing card floating at the bottom of the ocean.
Luca, at first hesitant about the “human” objects because of the scary stories his parents told him of humans on land, soon becomes curious after he meets fellow sea monster Alberto when he comes to retrieve his lost items. Alberto, voiced by Jack Dylan Grazer, explains to Luca that the clock and card are from his collection on land.
After expressing utter confusion about a sea monster venturing to the human world, a place he has only heard horror stories of, Alberto explains to Luca that life on land is magical and drags him to shore to show him his home. After stepping foot on land, Alberto teaches Luca how to walk in a childish-innocence kind of way and brings him to his home — a tower on the Riviera.
Their personalities often clash, with Alberto being assertive and independent and Luca being nervous and a little more dependent on those around them. But, even with their clashing personalities, they still make good friends.
Alberto and Luca spend their days building homemade Vespas out of random parts and items Alberto has laying around. The highlight of this film is during the scene with a beautiful dream sequence of Alberto and Luca flying through space on their dream Vespa.
In addition to the animation sequence, the scenes offer the sweetest dynamic between the two when Alberto comforts Luca after he expresses his fear of riding the Vespa. The dialogue and analogy used by Alberto warmed my heart as they interacted.
When Luca returns home one day from land, he finds his parents waiting for him with a long-lost relative. After expressing their fears of the land, his parents inform Luca that he is going to be sent away to live with his uncle to keep him safe from ever returning to land.
Luca, in an angry outburst, runs away from home and returns to land to live with Alberto. Alberto and Luca decide to venture inland to the small town where they meet Giulia, voiced by Emma Berman. Giulia is an eccentric young girl living in the town for the summer with her fisherperson father.
After befriending Giulia, the three decide to enter the town's triathlon to win the prize money for their Vespa.
The film has montage scenes of them practicing — Alberto eating pasta, Luca biking and Giulia swimming, all three things that are required in the race. The friendships formed between the three were engaging throughout and left me with no complaints.
It’s clear the writers knew their audience and their cast of characters, as “Luca” does a wonderful job at writing children, with simple conflicts resolved with communication and an expression of platonic love for one another and non-stop adventuring which children often find themselves in.
While “Luca” is categorized as a children's movie, it still offers moments of adult topics. The movie reveals that Alberto’s dad abandoned him, leaving older audience members with a more mature, emotionally engaging plot line to connect with.
The animation in the movie is extremely detailed and delightful to look at. It’s so good that the animated pasta made me hungry each time it appeared on the screen. Like the dream sequence, there were a few instances in the film that show the regular animation over what appeared to be a watercolor-type animation as a backdrop, which was very pleasing to the eye.
The movie teaches an important lesson about independence and perseverance as Luca learns to stand up to a bully — the antagonist of the movie — and to his own parents when he knows he is safe and right in his ways.
I enjoyed every moment of “Luca” and spent many moments crying, laughing and “awing” at the screen.
A sweet story with beautiful animation, this week's forecast calls for a partly cloudy rating of four stars.
“Luca” is currently streaming on Disney+.
Elaina Johnson (she/her) is a fourth-year political science major who has previously copy edited and been editor-in-chief for The Front. This quarter she is the opinions and outreach editor. She hopes to make engaging stories this quarter and reconnect with the community through various outreach. In her free time outside of The Front, she can be found watching movies, writing chaotic Letterboxd reviews and drinking oat milk chai. She can be reached at email@example.com.