Luca (2021)
June 19, 2021 2:05 PM - Subscribe

Up where they walk, up where they run/ Up where they stay all day in the sun/ Wanderin' free - wish I could be/ Part of that world

Sea monsters! Italy! Friendship! Bicycle racing! A judgmental mustachioed cat!

brb off to check Vespa pricing
posted by Huffy Puffy (17 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Oh! If only this movie had songs by Menken and Ashman!! As much as I enjoyed LUCA, it's no Little Mermaid, (even if they used the same basic story minus the romance). It definitely could have used some clever songs and significantly more Uncle Ugo. I am 95% sure the setting is based on the Cinque Terre town of Manarola. (I've visited the Cinque Terre many times and I will never forgive Rick Steves for telling people to go there. This movie is not going to help with the crushing tide of tourists once people can visit Italy again.) Heavy sigh. Anyway, cute movie, but no classic.
posted by pjsky at 5:12 PM on June 19, 2021 [1 favorite]

I did appreciate that they didn’t drive this movie through the Pixar Sadness Factory. Two loving parents! Who stay alive! Through a whole Disney movie!
posted by Huffy Puffy at 5:28 PM on June 19, 2021 [7 favorites]

Se hai una Vespa Special che i toglie i problemi

I can't imagine the licensing fees for Lùnapop would be that expensive, so I really feel like this was a missed opportunity. I may just be very specifically dating myself here however.

The movie was cute but I did not love it as much as I'd hoped (Italian riviera sea monsters being extremely in my wheelhouse).

Liked Machiavelli a lot. Really enjoyed the scene where mom kicks all the children into the fountain. Loved the little town, and liked that the stakes stayed smallish, and, agreed, not tragic!

I didn't expect Pixar to make the leads overtly queer, but the internet had me hoping for stronger subtext at least.
posted by the primroses were over at 5:32 PM on June 19, 2021 [2 favorites]

Why Luca Is An LGBTQ Story (Despite What Pixar Says)

That article links to an interview with the director and producer, in which Enrico Casarosa says:

We were quite aware that we wanted to talk about that time in life before boyfriends and girlfriends. So there's an innocence and a focus on the friendship side. I feel like the story would be a little different in that it's slightly more complicated when romance comes in.

Of course, the film ends


with one of the most classic romance-trope scenes ever, the Tearful Longing Railroad Station Farewell As The Train Pulls Away From The Beloved, between two boys. So maybe not so free of the complications of romance as Casarosa wants us to believe.

The movie was cute but I did not love it as much as I'd hoped

Yeah, for me the plotline with Alberto's jealousy of Giulia and Luca was so unpleasant, fairly cliched and just unnecessary; it felt like a tacked-on way to generate artificial conflict when there was already a bunch of funny/cute/scary conflict confronting Our Heroes, and brought the movie down a bit. I would have preferred to see the three of them increasingly bonding in the face of the many challenges they faced from the larger world, without the manufactured split between them.

I'm a sucker for underwater stuff so loved the early ocean scenes and would have loved more biology/exploration of that world, including Uncle Ugo taking us to the Deep, for at least a little bit. Some beautiful animation throughout.

I didn't expect Pixar to make the leads overtly queer, but the internet had me hoping for stronger subtext at least.

Yeah, it's more of the same "Look fast and there's queerness if you want to see it, but we also need it to get past the Chinese censors so it's just about feeling different generally" stuff from Disney, what this Slate article calls the "Rainbow Rorschach Test." The two very close elderly women living in town with a Hidden Secret are another example. (I have my thoughts about Grandma, too, sneaking off to town every weekend.)

It's a fun, cute Pixar movie that doesn't quite hit the heights it could have. There is also some nice representation of a character with a disability in Giulia's father, which I thought was handled well.
posted by mediareport at 6:18 AM on June 20, 2021 [3 favorites]

I do not watch animated movies as a rule (I have seen one Pixar movie in my entire life) but I gotta say this looks immensely charming. I love Italy!! I love sea monsters!
posted by supermedusa at 10:07 AM on June 20, 2021

Alberto felt like such an appeared-out-of-nowhere blank slate in this -- nobody knows him, no family, no backstory that he's willing to give -- that for the longest time I expected this to turn out to be a Fight Club scenario.

Impossible not to see queer coding in (a) Luca driving Alberto away when he's outed as a sea-monster out of fear of outing himself too and (b) "some people, they'll never accept him; but some will."

more Uncle Ugo

Stick around to the end of the credits.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 10:12 AM on June 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

oh and

it's no Little Mermaid

I think it does eventually escape from this comparison and become its own thing, but the first 15 minutes in particular are very heavily in the shadow of The Little Mermaid and suffer by comparison to it: TLM is snappily paced, gets straight into its plot, and has a great song whereas this really plods in the beginning until Luca gets onto the land.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 10:21 AM on June 20, 2021

I thought this was delightful. Aside from the characters, simply the translation of an actual Italian village into animation was brilliantly done, aver was the highlight of them film. It's worth watching the location documentary to see the real place.
posted by happyroach at 9:23 PM on June 20, 2021

I think it’s interesting how we each apply our own experience to a story. I viewed Luca through the eyes of a single parent who struggled to walk the line between keeping my child safe and encouraging her to pursue new adventures. Even though Little Mermaid seems like an obvious comparison, I didn’t even consider it until reading this thread. Similarly, I didn’t see an underlying LGBTQ story. For me it was a traditional story of the conflict a parent faces when their child wants to venture from the nest. Luca’s parents over-reacted and tried to hide him away “for his own protection.” Luca, naturally, ran away, and while he found the outside world to have real dangers he also found amazing things he couldn’t have imagined if he’d remained at home. It’s a tale as old as time.

While Luca and Ariel both share under-the-sea roots and curiosity about life in the outside world, their consequences were significantly different. Luca could return to the sea and instantly return to his sea monster self and just as quickly change his mind again and return to the human world. Ariel’s totally unrealistic conflict was that her choice would impact her life forever – there was no going back. Life isn’t like that. Many of us have returned to the nest, even if it’s just to prepare for life’s next big adventure. So, the stakes for Luca were much smaller and, to me, more relatable.

Regarding the three friends . . . when my daughter was growing up, I actively tried to avoid the dreaded triad. Daughter plus 1 = no problem but daughter plus 2 would quickly result in 1 kid feeling left out – there was a high risk of tears and hurt feelings. So, it was no surprise that Alberto felt threatened and hurt by Luca’s friendship with Giulia or that it resulted in a major meltdown and Luca rejecting Alberto. I thought the movie did a great job of showing how friendship with Alberto taught Luca confidence and enough recklessness to help overcome that negative inner voice (Bruno!). Luca needed Alberto to break free. And then Giulia introduced goal setting, hard work, and learning into the mix. Friendships are like that and the right friends at the right time help us to grow.

The single parent in me also felt strongly about Alberto’s arc. My heart ached for him, having been abandoned by his father and left to fend for himself. In the end *spoiler* Alberto set Luca free and chose to stay with Giulia’s father, Massimo, who could give Alberto the structure and nurturing of a parental figure. In my opinion, it was a good choice and exactly what Alberto needed.
posted by kbar1 at 9:41 PM on June 20, 2021 [6 favorites]

An exploration and coming of age film is a perfect description. In fact Is say a better film than Little Mermaid to compare and contrast it to would be Kiki's Delivery Service. Both involve exploring a beautiful seaside town, coming of age, and learning how to make new friendships. Of course Kiki's involves travel with the support of the parents, but both involve the child staying there because they want to.

Also, I can totally see Miyazaki drawing that town.
posted by happyroach at 11:08 PM on June 20, 2021 [9 favorites]

I thought this was a really cute movie and loved the animation style plus dialogue in Italian.

I am queer but am rubbish at noticing subtext, give me overtly queer characters!
posted by ellieBOA at 1:40 PM on June 21, 2021

We enjoyed it a lot.

I'm all about queer representation, but I also appreciate films that allow kids to have intense relationships that are not (except maybe in intensity and a few tingly feelings) about romantic pair-bonding or sexual interest.
posted by warriorqueen at 7:02 AM on June 22, 2021 [2 favorites]

Your comment, warriorqueen, seems to imply that queer representation must include "romantic pair-bonding or sexual interest." I'm guessing that wasn't your intent, but it's hard to miss the "I like queer representation BUT it's nice to see kids' content without romantic bonding or sexual interest" framing. Apologies if I've misread.

Anyway, if someone wants to see DisneyPlus content that has very clear queer representation free of sexual interest or romantic pair-bonding, last month Disney released a series of six short films as the first season of its "Launchpad" series featuring underrepresented creators and stories. One of them, "The Little Prince(ss)", written and directed by Moxie Peng, is a wonderfully affirming 16-min short about a genderqueer Chinese-American 1st grader, who befriends a new boy in school. The new boy's father is not happy about his son's pal's love of pink and ballet. It's really nice, and extra nice to see on DisneyPlus.

A few of the other films in the series also have queer content; "Let's Be Tigers," an emotional story about a few hours in the life of a boy and his grief-stricken babysitter, starts with a casual presentation of the boy's parents - two men - leaving the house for a night out. "Growing Fangs" is about a teen girl who's half-vampire and half-human, and the problems she encounters while hiding her identity at monster school, including her infatuation with another girl. Those 3 were the strongest of the 6, I thought, but all of them are worth watching, and if I had kids I'd spread them out over our TV watching for the next few weeks.
posted by mediareport at 2:07 PM on June 25, 2021 [4 favorites]

Agreed on the intense friendships bit. Seeing my boy with his buddies, lemme tell you the bromance is Real. But those two old ladies who out themselves as fish in the end are totally “but but… my aunts were just two good friends who lived together for like 20 years” lesbians in plain sight.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 9:15 AM on August 29, 2021

Finally saw this! It was great, and just beautifully animated. Of course, now I feel like Disney is sending me mixed messages, and whether I shouldn’t talk about Bruno or should be telling him to be quiet.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:46 PM on February 3, 2022 [3 favorites]

🎵non parliamo di Bruno 🎵
posted by ellieBOA at 12:04 AM on February 4, 2022 [1 favorite]

I just watched this with the family and enjoyed it more than I expected. I felt like this got overshadowed by Encanto in the zeitgeist, but I generally prefer it when movies have more restrained stakes and emotional beats, and so I enjoyed this more than Encanto. I'd be happy to see Pixar keep putting out movies like Turning Red and Luca.

I also got a kick out of the constant reckless activities of the kids. Like how many bruises and broken bones would we realistically have gotten out of all of those adventures?
posted by Alex404 at 1:20 AM on April 25, 2022

« Older Movie: The Swimming Pool...   |  Supernatural: Roadkill... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments