Massimo Marcovaldo in Pixar's Luca with his cat on his shoulder

How Luca Character Massimo Marcovaldo Came Alive With Help From Crip Camp Co-Director Jim Lebrecht

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Over the holiday weekend, I finally watched the latest Pixar film, Luca. After being deeply let down by Soul, I came into this new offering with light expectations, but I found myself deeply enamored with the film. It was beautifully animated and a lovely coming-of-age story that tugged at my heartstrings without making me relive something traumatic. But one thing I wasn’t prepared for was the latest Pixar DILF, Massimo Marcovaldo, who has a limb difference.

We are introduced to Massimo when our two transformed sea monsters, Luca and Alberto, team up with Giulia Marcovaldo to do a triathlon to win money for a Vespa … watch the movie. Giulia takes them to her house, where we are introduced to her father, Massimo the fisherman. During dinner, Alberto asks how he lost his arm, and Massimo responds, after playing a small joke on the boy, that “This is how I came into the world.”

It is a small thing, but it is one of the few depictions acknowledging that limb differences and disabilities can exist without being lost in battle or some traumatic event.

According to the New York Times, this resulted from a collaboration between the film’s director, Enrico Casarosa, and Crip Camp co-director Jim LeBrecht. The Luca team reached out to him.

“It was a real meaty conversation,” said LeBrecht. Together they all came and built the character of Massimo, who was born different, rather than getting it in the War (since the film takes place in post-WWII Italy).

“Let’s get beyond these tragic stories, these old tropes, where someone with a disability is only in a story if it’s centered around their disability,” LeBrecht said. “And let’s do what we’ve done with other marginalized communities over the years, and simply say, ‘Look, we are part of the fabric of society.’”

Crip Camp, which was nominated for an Oscar, followed LeBreacht, and other former summer campers from Camp Jened in upstate New York, created for teens with disabilities and their journey for legislation to help with accessibility.

For LeBreacht, this kind of representation makes sense: “The industry has to apply the same diversity and inclusion efforts that they have for other marginalized communities toward the disabled community. It’s not Make a Wish. It’s not charity. It’s good business.”

Good business and a great movie that focuses on the differences that can bring a group of underdogs together. If you haven’t seen Luca, please check it out. For the food animation alone, it is more than worth the price of admission.

(via NYT, image: Pixar)

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Princess Weekes
Princess (she/her-bisexual) is a Brooklyn born Megan Fox truther, who loves Sailor Moon, mythology, and diversity within sci-fi/fantasy. Still lives in Brooklyn with her over 500 Pokémon that she has Eevee trained into a mighty army. Team Zutara forever.