Pixar is the kingdom that transformed animation. Their ability to produce joy and sadness across all ages is a remarkable achievement to this day. There are occasions where they produce duds like Cars, making Pixar, the home of Toy Story, look more like Dreamworks Animation, the home of Shrek. Indeed, that perspective has changed since Shrek’s 2001 debut. How to Train Your Dragon is a beautiful example of how far Dreamworks animation has come since its creation. Still, HTTYD doesn’t hold a candle up to films like Wall-E or Monster’s Inc. Luca doesn’t land like a Cars thud, but it’s still an exercise in sameness with a touch of Italian culture which is kind-spirited but didn’t work for me.
I’m okay with the standard storytelling arc of a boy who wants to go to a bigger world. Being a cuddly sea monster, Luca Paguro (Jacob Tremberly) wants to see the surface world. Like a video game character able to change abilities with the touch of a button, Luca can transform into a real live boy when on his feet which is an homage to Pinocchio that loses its subtlety later in the picture. Luca’s new friend Alberto (Jack Dylan Grazer) shows him the world outside the sea. He’s male Arial, in other words.
If this all sounds incredibly familiar to the point of boredom, then this movie may not be for you. But, if you’re interested in seeing it still, then, by all means, check it out. My issue lies in how much better Pixar can do. I couldn’t help but know where the movie was going to go every step of the way. Boy meets friend. Boy doesn’t fit in with other kids, boy fits in with the other kids, and bigotry is abolished. I can’t help but feel the script was talking down to kids.
Children might not be fully intellectually developed, but they’re smarter than you think. Unbeknownst to them, the little tikes’ brains are more engaged when they see something different. There’s a reason children are more connected to Toy Story than Shrek. They can tell when they’re being treated like children. As an adult, I always loved the mature choices placed within a kid’s film.
Look at Toy Story 3. It didn’t have to have the Toys holding each other’s hands while facing their fiery demise. But the writers trusted the audience enough to go there. That’s an unpredictable move in boldness. Wall-E’s entire theme is about environmental destruction. Its entire first act has almost no dialogue. How did it work out for Wall-E? Magically.
What does Luca do or say that’s unique? Oh yes, it’s Italian culture. I can’t believe I’m typing this, but Writer/Director Enrico Casarosa could take a note from Nia Vardalos. My Greek family drove me nuts re-watching My Big Fat Greek Wedding. The film was a hit because all the jokes surrounding Greek traditions were relatable to everyone. You didn’t have to be Greek to get the humor of offering lamb to a vegetarian. Luca’s identity is wrapped perceivably around the environment that Mr. Casarosa grew up in. That’s a beautiful sentiment undermined by slapstick humor.
Moments of strength are present. One scene realistically depicted h how children treat one another when exposed to danger. Do more of that! Also, thank you for not being another flick about an orphan who gains a nonbiological family through his new friends. If I saw that overused plot point again, I would have hurled. From my basic internet research, it’s stated that Luca avoided several Pixar conventions. I’m dumbfounded as to what they are. Was it unique because it looks, sounds, and plays like every other animated film that got lost in the Minions ether of public consciousness? Because Luca certainly was that for me. I could quickly write a film about an adorable animal but make it all about my weird Greek family. Maybe I will and cash in on it someday if given the opportunity. Sadly I’m not an animator. As a fan of them, I ask the writers of this film to take more chances.
Do you agree with my rating? Why or why not? Please be respectful.