MOVIE REVIEWS

Review: Disney/Pixar’s ‘Luca’ Is A Colorful, Fun Look Back At The Innocence Of Youth

Jun 18, 2021, 7:23 AM

SALT LAKE CITY – Fresh off their win for best animated film at the 2021 Academy Awards, Disney and Pixar are ready to get back in the water (pun intended) with their newest release, “Luca” — a coming-of-age fantasy/comedy that premiered Friday on the Disney+ streaming platform.

“Luca” tells the story of a brightly-colored, humanoid underwater creature (voiced by Jacob Tremblay) who lives off the coast of Italy with his parents sometime in the 1960s or so. Young Luca’s job is to herd the family’s goat-fish and to definitely, NEVER EVER go above the surface of the water. But things change when Luca meets Alberto (Jack Dylan Grazer) another “sea monster” (as they’re known to surface dwellers) who collects artifacts the humans drop in the water and who shows him that their kind magically transforms into humans when they leave the sea and dry off.

The two become fast friends, spending their time on an island where Alberto says he lives with his father, having fun together and doing things like jumping bikes off cliffs and similar boyish mischief, all the while dreaming of future adventures together in the real world.  When Luca’s parents, voiced by Maya Rudolph and Jim Gaffigan, threaten to send him “to the deep” with his weird uncle (Sacha Baron Cohen) if he doesn’t stop going above the surface, Luca and Alberto decide to run away to the human town of Portorosso, where they hope to win enough money to buy their own Vespa and set off to explore the world.  They just have to find a way to do it without being exposed as “sea monsters.”

It’s director Enrico Casarosa’s first time helming a full-length feature film, but he did direct the Oscar-nominated digital short “La Luna” a few years ago (it played in theaters with the movie “Brave”) and he seems to have made a smooth transition to the longer format. In “Luca,” he has created a highly enjoyable film with an air of innocence that often seems missing from many other family movies these days. The kids are actually portrayed as kids, not as little versions of adults. They aren’t always the smartest people in the room and they’re not a bunch of quick-witted smart-alecks either.  The boys and the girl Giulia they befriend in Portorosso (voiced by newcomer Emma Berman) are just pleasant and earnest characters who have a lot to learn about each other and about life in general.

Much of the movie’s humor comes from simple, innocent things like Luca learning to walk on land, the efforts the boys have to make to avoid getting wet or letting people see them get wet and finding out they’re sea monsters, or how Luca’s parents go about searching for him on land.  Moments like these are always a strength in a Pixar movie, and “Luca” is no exception.

There are some moments that will make you think of “The Little Mermaid,” and others reminiscent of the 1980’s Tom Hanks/Daryl Hannah movie, “Splash.” The locations in Mediterranean coastal Italy are gorgeous and vibrantly colorful, as are the moments when Luca’s imagination soars as he tries to make sense of the surface world he’s learning about, making it easy to also immerse yourself just as he does.  Plus, you’re never likely to find another movie that holds the Vespa scooter in such high regard!

Not surprisingly, there’s really nothing offensive in the movie at all. “Luca” is rated PG for some rude humor and language (though I honestly don’t recall any bad language), and some brief violence.  The movie is only 1 hour & 35 minutes long—so kids will definitely be able to get in LOTS of viewings each day!

It’s a shame, in a way, that “Luca” isn’t playing in theaters because it would look great up on the big screen.  It seems that Disney and Pixar have done it again, creating an innocent, imaginative and lighthearted movie that I and my entire family enjoyed watching together.  I give it THREE AND A HALF out of FOUR stars.

“Luca” is exclusively available via streaming on Disney Plus, just like “Soul” back in December.  It is available to all with the regular $8/month Disney Plus basic subscription.  There is no additional premium fee for it.


Hopefully you & your family found this review helpful! Andy Farnsworth is the movie and pop culture guy for the KSL 5 Today morning news show and also hosts the Fan Effect podcast for KSL NewsRadio. Check out some of his other in-depth reviews of movies and streaming TV series on KSLTV.com

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Movie Reviews

United States Supreme Court Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh poses for an official portrait at the...
Lindsey Bahr

Sundance doc looks into Brett Kavanaugh investigation

A new documentary looks into the sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
17 days ago
Javon "Wanna" Walton (left) as Sam Cleary and Sylvester Stallone (right) as Joe Smith in SAMARITAN,...
ANDY FARNSWORTH, KSL TV & KSL NEWSRADIO

REVIEW: Stallone’s ‘Samaritan’ stops short of superhero movie success

Sylvester Stallone's latest movie SAMARITAN sees him as a garbage man that a teenage neighbor believes to be a superhero in hiding. KSL's Andy Farnsworth says there are some cool moments that action and superhero movie fans will enjoy, but overall thinks it's good that the movie is only streaming on Prime Video and not in theaters.
6 months ago
(L to R) Thira ‘Aum’ Chutikul as Commander Kiet, Popetorn ‘Two’ Soonthornyanaku as Dr Karn,...
ANDY FARNSWORTH, KSL TV & KSL NEWSRADIO

REVIEW: ‘Thirteen Lives’ movie dramatically tells real rescue story of Thai soccer team from flooded cave

In THIRTEEN LIVES, a true story-based movie on Amazon Prime about the rescue of a teenage soccer team from a flooded cave in Thailand, director Ron Howard manages to pull off the feat of balancing truth with drama without turning it into a documentary. KSL's Andy Farnsworth says it was an emotionally-engaging movie that showcases the triumph of human effort and spirit when we work together to solve a problem.
6 months ago
(L to R) B.J. Novak as Ben Manalowitz and Boyd Holbrook as Ty Shaw in VENGEANCE, directed and writt...
ANDY FARNSWORTH, KSL TV & KSL NEWSRADIO

REVIEW: Dark comedy ‘Vengeance’ goes deeper than easy stereotypes for laughs in murder mystery movie

The death of a one-time fling draws B.J. Novak's writer/podcaster character Ben to West Texas to investigate and hopefully turn the story into a career-making podcast in Focus Features' VENGEANCE. KSL's Andy Farnsworth says this dark comedy has some great twists and very funny moments, while also going beyond stereotypes to create real characters.
6 months ago
Michael Cera as “Hank” and Samuel L. Jackson as “Jimbo” in Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank...
ANDY FARNSWORTH, KSL TV & KSL NEWSRADIO

REVIEW: ‘Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank’ remakes an adult comedy classic into an animated movie for modern-day kids

A kids animated movie based on the irreverent 1970's film BLAZING SADDLES? That's exactly what PAWS OF FURY: THE LEGEND OF HANK is, right down to having Mel Brooks voice a character. A friendly dog ventures to the land of cats to become a samurai, and finds himself protecting a village that doesn't even want him there. KSL's Andy Farnsworth says its got a great voice cast but keeping your expectations for the movie in check will help you enjoy it more.
7 months ago
The Gray Man (2022) Ryan Gosling as Six. Cr. Stanislav Honzik/Netflix © 2022...
ANDY FARNSWORTH, KSL TV & KSL NEWSRADIO

REVIEW: ‘The Gray Man’ is a violent but fast-paced throwback to action/spy movies of the past, with Chris Evans and Ryan Gosling chasing each other around the globe

The new action thriller movie THE GRAY MAN, from AVENGERS ENDGAME directors Joe and Anthony Russo, sees Chris Evans' sadistic mercenary chasing Ryan Gosling's on-the-run CIA agent all around the globe to get back some stolen information. KSL's Andy Farnsworth says it's a love letter to spy and action movies of the past, and is very entertaining at times, though it is also quite violent.
7 months ago

Sponsored Articles

vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...
Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.
Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Review: Disney/Pixar’s ‘Luca’ Is A Colorful, Fun Look Back At The Innocence Of Youth