This has shot right to the top of my favourite Disney/Pixar films – because of its vibrant simplicity.
Pixar animators were reportedly upset that so close to cinemas re-opening this was preferred as a Disney Plus exclusive – and much like with Soul wasn’t even made available to pay for on Premier Access (which was obviously good for the consumer) – which was a shame for all involved.
This colourful 60s (ish) Italian Riviera-set adventure – sending out a big ‘wish you were here’ moment to all of us confined to these shores for Covid – could be accused of playing it safe compared to some of Pixar’s ingenious adult-friendly back catalogue – but in this lies its beauty.
Timid young sea monster Luca (Room’s Jacob Tremblay) herds goatfish at the bottom of the ocean near the coastal town of Portorosso – constantly being told by his fearful parents to never approach the surface in case he’s hunted by humans.
But when his curiosity gets the better of him, he ventures out of the sea – realising that doing so turns him human when he’s out of the water – and befriends fellow sea monster teenager Alberto (IT’s Jack Dylan Grazer) who is happily living alone in his hideout above the surface.
So when his folks find out – and he’s threatened to be sent to the deep sea to live with his eccentric Uncle Ugo (Sacha Baron Cohen) – he runs away with his new friend as they chase their dream of owning a Vespa moped to travel the world.
Hiding out in the city the duo get saved from local bully – and city’s esteemed Triathlon champ – Ercole (Saverio Raimondo) by the boisterously free-spirited Giulia (Emma Berman), and this sparks another friendship.
They meet her one-armed fisherman father Massimo (Marco Barricelli) and are given a place to stay as they team up to take part in the town’s triathlon tournament in an attempt to take the crown from the arrogant Ercole – and get the cash prize for Luca and Alberto to buy their prized Vespa.
But when Luca’s parents decide to take a leap of faith by leaving their sea-bed homestead themselves, things become a lot more complicated for the youngster – particularly as his human experiences on land start to expand his horizons.
And while it’s an extremely straightforward A to B type story – which may be a bit too undemanding for hardcore Pixar afficionados – in that lies the joy of Luca. A colourful and lusciously-animated tale that doesn’t outstay it’s welcome – and all the characters are infectiously likeable too.
Especially Tremblay’s and Dylan Grazer’s turns as the lead boys – who you root for throughout this refreshingly uncomplicated 95-minute sun-soaked little gem of a movie.
As the Italians would say: Formidabile!
Voice Cast: Jacob Tremblay, Jack Dylan Grazer, Emma Berman, Saverio Raimondo, Marco Barricelli, Maya Rudolph, Jim Gaffigan, Marina Massironi, Gino D’acampo & Sacha Baron Cohen
Running Time: 1 Hr 35 Mins
Director: Enrico Casarosa