Luca (film on Disney+ Hotstar); Cast: Jacob Tremblay, Jack Dylan Grazer, Emma Berman, Marco Barricelli, Saverio Raimondo, Maya Rudolph, Jim Gaffigan; Direction: Enrico Casarosa; Rating: * * * (three stars)
BY VINAYAK CHAKRAVORTY
"Luca" talks of inclusion, and the importance of accepting those that are perceived as different by society. Like all Pixar productions, the film serves its message in a goodlooking package that brims with feel-good verve, and animation that is as striking as you'd expect from the banner. The core adventure aims to regale children, and is served with suitably cute relish. The action is sanitised and the thrills, it is ensured, are never dark.
What "Luca" could have done with is more of the hallmark quirk that usually makes Pixar films irresistible. Apart from a central plot twist pertaining to the film's two lead characters, the film remains predictable as the story unfolds. If you've loved "Coco", "Inside Out" or "Up", you might find that bit sorely lacking in this film.
Enrico Casarosa's film opens somewhere deep within the sea, where Luca (voice of Jacob Tremblay), a young and sprightly sea monster lives with his parents and grandma. Luca is fascinated by what lies above the water surface but his parents have strictly told him not to venture out of the sea, for land is where the evil 'human monsters' live.
Then, one day Luca meets another young sea monster named Alberto ((Jack Dylan Grazer)), who invites him to join him for a trek above. The world outside, Alberto assures, is beautiful, and not at all as bad as Luca's parents have made it to be.
There's a surprise waiting for Luca above. He discovers every time he ventures out of water and the water on him dries off, he -- like Alberto -- turns into a young boy.
The narrative establishes that premises quite crisply and early one, before taking us into the 'Human Town' with Luca and Alberto. Much of their adventure that follows will unfold in the scenic little town on the Italian Riviera.
Casarosa and his screenwriters (Jesse Andrews and Mike Jones) start off with a wonky premise plus the advantage of stunning artwork that serves as backdrop for the animation. They handle the coming-of-age drama fairly well, as the two boys paint the town red with their little escapades.
Amusingly, with smart sales pitch, the writers have managed to blend Vespa branding into the story. The product placement is seamlessly done. The Vespa scooter, just like a bowl of pasta, is something that has come to define average Italian lifestyle. Luca's obsession with the Vespa triggers an important aspect of the story.
"Luca" essentially works as a fun watch that entertains while it runs. There is not much that resonates in your mind once the show is over. The film works for its gorgeous visuals and a voice cast that does a commendable job.