Disney/Pixar's latest movie Luca is doing well after its first weekend in theaters. The animated film has an 89 percent approval rating among critics on Rotten Tomatoes, and an 88 percent score with general audiences. It seems destined to join the long list of Pixar classics.
Luca is a coming-of-age tale set in a seaside town on the Italian Riviera, starring Jacob Tremblay as the title character and Jack Dylan Grazer as his new best friend, Alberto. The two of them are "sea monsters" of a sort, living below the surface and taught to fear humans. However, they are drawn up into the local town by the promise of adventure, good food and Vespa rides.
Luca was written by Jesse Andrew and Mike Jones, and directed by Enrico Casarosa. It also stars Emma Berman, Maya Rudolph, Giacomo Gianniotti and Jim Gaffigan, among others. Critics are by no means calling it perfect, but the reviews seem to be reliably positive all around.
Like other recent Disney releases, Luca is available to stream on Disney+ — with a free trial here for new users. This one actually skipped theater altogether and is included with the subscription price at no additional cost. Some critics are questioning why Disney did not send the movie to theaters now that the COVID-19 vaccine is relatively accessible and some theaters are reopening at higher capacities.
Regardless, the movie itself stands as a success. Here's what critics have to say about Luca so far.
Critic Leah Greenblatt of Entertainment Weekly wrote that the plot of Luca is characteristically simple for a Pixar movie, "but Italian-born director Enrico Casarosa, a longtime staffer at Pixar, infuses every frame with a pure kind of love for his home country." This authenticity is a big part of the movie's charm.prevnext
Writing for Mashable, critic Angie Han noted that Luca does not aim for the grandiose, life-or-death message that other recent Pixar movies have targeted. She wrote: "The emotions it inspires seem relatively modest, too — more warm fuzzies than the full-body sobs the studio has become famous for provoking in grown-ups. It's just the story of some kid enjoying the summer while trying to hide the fact that he's a sea monster. And he's not even a particularly fabled or ferocious sea monster at that."prevnext
In a review for Reel Views, James Beardinelli questioned whether Luca could "hold the attention of older viewers" in the same way that other Pixar movies had. This is often considered one of the studio's greatest strengths, so it's disappointing to hear that some parents may not enjoy sitting through this one.prevnext
Jason Adams of Pajiba was one of many critics to note that the friendship between Luca and Alberto was the real "heart of the film." He said that the trappings of Italy and sea monsters might not please everyone, but the tale of friendship will most certainly resonate.prevnext
Another of the few negative reviews of Luca came from Detroit News' Adam Graham, who wrote: "From any other company, Luca would be underwhelming and easily forgettable. Coming from Pixar, however, long the gold standard in animation, it's a disappointment, another sign the studio's stamp is not what it once was. Toss this one back in the water."prevnext
Catalina Combs of BlackGirlNerds.com praised Luca for the authenticity of its representation of Italy. She wrote: "Luca is the character who represents everyone, at any age, wanting to get out of their comfort zone and learn about other people, take in other cultures, and make new friends along the way."prevnext
Finally, Rachel Leishman of The Mary Sue wrote about how emotional she felt while considering the message that children were likely to take away from Luca. She wrote that it is "a movie that tries to teach us all to be more open and understanding of others. I could watch these two boys enjoying their time together, making a scooter, for the rest of my life, and I hope that kids love Luca as much as I did."