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Length: 85 minutes
Director: Enrico Casarosa
Cast: Jacob Tremblay, Jack Dylan Grazer, Emma Berman, Maya Rudolph, Marco Barricelli, Jim Gaffigan
Release details: Streaming on Disney+ from 18 June
4 out of 5 stars
Disney and Pixar's latest animated film features Luca and Alberto, two young "sea monsters", with fins for hair and ears, and long scaly tails, who are just out to have fun and explore the wonders of the human world, which they are forbidden to step foot on by sea monster society. Their race of sea creatures lives just off the coast of the Italian Riviera, which is famous for its quaint and pretty villages set against beautiful mountainous landscapes. The joke is that sea monsters aren't the bloodthirsty man-eaters that humans think they are, and are in fact as scared of humans (the "land monsters") as humans are of their sea-dwelling counterparts.
The two main characters, who magically transform into human form once they leave the sea, have to hide their identities as sea monsters within the town of humans – a metaphor for their feelings of not belonging, of being outsiders, which is a recurring theme in the film. Friendship is another strong theme, as the story follows how Luca is changed for the better in different ways through his relationships with Alberto and human girl Giulia. The free-spirited Alberto is an important influence in Luca's coming of age, with his exhortation to silence the self-doubts in one's head: "Silenzio, Bruno!" Who's Bruno? Luca asks. The name doesn't matter, says Alberto; what matters is recognising and overcoming your unfounded anxieties.
The main conflict comes from Luca and Alberto's friendship being tested as they pursue their quest to own a Vespa scooter – their instrument of choice to travel the beautiful Italian landscape – but their goals diverge along the way.
The film is Italian director Enrico Casarosa's love letter to the Riviera's summer landscape, inspired by his own childhood memories, and it shows in the details of the animation – in the sun-soaked colourful houses nestled into the hillsides, the narrow, cobbled sloping streets, and the town square with an ornate fountain at its centre.
Luca is a funny and heartwarming film, though it doesn't quite hit the deep emotional notes that Pixar is known for; but anyone who's had differences with a friend but loves them all the same will identify with Luca and Alberto's story and even shed a tear or two.
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