Warm sunny days filled with smiles, games, ice cream, and the ocean breeze are what make so many of us crave summer life. A taste of those warm weather vibes in the dead of winter can bring that joyful feeling back into our souls. Disney and Pixar’s new animated original feature film “Luca” does just that. Academy Award nominee Enrico Casarosa set the film on the beautiful and masterfully colored Amalfi Coast in the Italian Riviera where happiness is contagious. Here, the glittering setting, vivid animation, and sensational voices magnificently bring the film to life.
Luca feels like a modern day take on the Disney classic ‘The Little Mermaid’ as it tells the story of a young “seamonster” who lives at the bottom of the ocean with his family and community while wondering what lies beyond the ocean surface. The film also addresses the importance of diversity and inclusivity, two ideas that are much more prevalent in today’s world than they were 10 years ago.
In the film, swimming up to the surface and leaving the water is strictly forbidden, and because Luca (played by 14 year old Jacob Tremblay) finds their life under the sea boring, uneventful, and dreary, he constantly wonders why he is stuck there and contemplates the possibility of there being a whole world he has yet to see. Shortly after deciding to embark on an adventure, Luca swims to the surface and realizes that when he is dry, his flippers turn into feet and he transforms into a human. On land, he meets his soon to be best friend and fellow sea monster/human combination, Alberto (played by 17 year old Jack Dylan Grazer).
Alberto and Luca begin to explore the world above sea level as humans. This took an immense amount of bravery and courage given that they were exploring the unknown; the writer E. A. Bucchianeri once said, “It’s the unknown that draws people.” The unknown of the world above the water is obviously what led Luca on this life changing adventure and quickly became the solution to his constant unhappiness in his underwater life. Alberto and Luca quickly discover all that the “dry world” has to offer such as true friendship, real Italian pasta, delicious gelato, colorful scenery, and much more. In particular, they discover a group of kids around their age playing a game of soccer right next to the beautifully colored town and bright blue coast of the ocean. Seeing people that looked just like them having fun is what initially drew the boys into this new world and made them feel comfortable. Luca soon begins to wonder how and why his under the sea community could find such an amazing place so terrifying and horrible.
Luca is a coming of age story because of the growth that his character shows from the time he is a naive seamonster through his journey into becoming a worldly human that changes an entire community. He was brave enough to enter an unknown world with a bad reputation and was strong enough to combine these two worlds into one that the entire population could happily inhabit. By doing so, he unknowingly created what would be a world filled with love, diversity, happiness, and confidence.
I found this movie to be a great example of why diversity, inclusivity, and the importance of friendship are all principles to be cherished and taught to generation after generation. The beings portrayed in Luca cannot control whether they were born a human or a sea monster, just as humans cannot control the color of our skin or our cultural background. Disney perfectly displayed the lesson that we must teach our children that being inclusive of those different from you will make the world a thoroughly happier place one step at a time.
Luca is available to watch for free with a Disney+ membership or available for rent on demand for a small fee.