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REVIEW: Luca Is a Beautiful Look at Acceptance, Adventure, and Love

4/5 gelatos

two poys ride a bike in the sky through seagulls in luca

There are stories of acceptance that often feel like a cheesy reminder to love one another, and while Disney and Pixar’s Luca could have easily been one of those stories, it is a movie that encapsulates that fear of wanting to belong with the knowledge that everyone is a little afraid of truly being themselves.

The film follows the story of two boys: Luca (Jacob Tremblay) and Alberto (Jack Dylan Grazer). While seemingly normal kids who are spending their time in Pontorosso, there is more to them than the average citizen can see—mainly because they are two sea monsters and the humans of Pontorosso don’t seem to realize that sea monsters look just like them when they are out of the water.

Luca is fascinated with a boy named Alberto when he sees him collecting human things and heading to the surface, something that Luca has never done before. And instead of focusing his energy on taking care of his family fish farm, he starts to pretend like he’s working but goes up to the surface with Alberto to work on creating their Vespa. The two boys want to spend their summer and time riding around on a scooter together and exploring the world. The problem is that the small area of the Italian Riviera that they find themselves on hates sea monsters.

But when Luca’s parents threaten to send him to the deep sea because he went to the surface, he runs away with Alberto to Pontorosso and the two hide away at Giulia’s house so they can help her win a contest to make enough money for a scooter. It’s a movie of summer fun and celebrating love, friendship, and adventure while trying to find that balance between acceptance and understanding. Luca just wants to be a kid, go to school, and have friends, but he can’t do those things as a sea monster, and seeing his upset, the anger that Alberto feels knowing that these things will never happen for them, and Luca’s attempts to be a “human” anyway makes Luca one of the more poignant Pixar/Disney films.

There were moments throughout the movie where I just found myself crying because of simple realizations. Not to give the whole movie away, but there is a background choice towards the end that just hits you in the heart and stays with you because you realize how much this movie tackles that fear of not belonging. Luca is a love letter to Italy, a movie that made me want to make my ancestors proud and eat gelato every single day, but it is also a movie that tries to teach us all to be more open and understanding of others. I could watch these two boys enjoying their time together, making a scooter, for the rest of my life, and I hope that kids love Luca as much as I did.

Luca is available on Disney+ Friday, June 18th.

(image: Pixar)

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Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. A writer her whole life but professionally starting back in 2016 who loves all things movies, TV, and classic rock. Resident Spider-Man expert, official Leslie Knope, actually Yelena Belova. Wanda Maximoff has never done anything wrong in her life. Star Wars makes her very happy. New York writer with a passion for all things nerdy. Yes, she has a Pedro Pascal podcast. And also a Harrison Ford one.