Warning: Mild Spoilers
Luca is Disney & Pixar’s latest film, which streamed for free on Disney Plus due to Covid-19. In some regards, Luca is like another Disney film, The Little Mermaid. Like Ariel, Luca longs for more than his life under the sea. He imagines what it would be like to live on the surface but his family strictly forbids it. Similar to the Little Mermaid, Luca’s fascination with the world above is piqued when he stumbles upon human items in his family pasture. Unlike the mermaid princess, Luca doesn’t have to trade his voice to a sea witch to go on land and become human. He simply has to overcome his fear and step out of the water. This causes him to transform into a human.
Once Luca is on land is when the film starts to separate from The Little Mermaid. Luca meets another sea monster named Alberto who has been living on a small Italian island alone. Together the two boys dream of life on their own and exploring the world on a Vespa. The Vespa becomes their symbol for freedom and is also our main plot point. The two sea buddies need a Vespa to make their dreams come true, so they go to a small village on a neighboring island in search of one. After a few funny scenes they learn they need money to get one and the best way to do it is to win a Triathalon.
Things go as you imagine. The boys struggle to hide their identity, they don’t really know how most human things work, Luca is hiding from his parents, and the boys have a conflict that creates a dramatic climax for the film. We get our classic Disney ending that includes enough feels to make a grown man cry.
But, that’s just what the film is on the surface. When you swim down deep you find that this film is more than a coming-of-age story, it’s about what happens when our dreams change. When what we thought wanted stops being what we want. Luca and Alberto both wanted to be free and that meant traveling the world together. This shared dream created a strong sense of loyalty not only to each other but to that dream as well. However, as the film progresses their dreams are no longer aligned, even if the film tries to trick you into believing that only one of them has strayed away.
As a parent, I find this particular life lesson important. Kids, and even adults, need to know that is ok to change your mind. Sometimes the dream we have for our lives doesn’t always go as plan. And the people attached to those dreams may not be along for the ride. That doesn’t mean you have to stop being friends or you don’t care, it just means there is another path. Heck, at one point I wanted to be a lawyer and even worked at a law firm. I thought I had achieved my dream but once I was in it, I realized I hated it and got myself fired. Now, I’m a writer and I couldn’t be happier.
Luca and Alberto had to find a way to come to terms with having separate dreams, but they could still be best friends. As I mentioned before, it’s a great lesson for grown-ups and kids alike.
I give Luca an A.
The film is visually stunning and the juxtaposition between the land and sea is breathtaking. The film doesn’t waste a single second of runtime with pointless fart jokes. It features important topics like growing up, abandonment, chosen family, prejudice, and love. There are several tear-jerking moments and equal amounts of laughs. I wouldn’t be surprised if tourism for Italy went up for this year and the next. I recommend watching with the whole family while you eat some Italian takeout.
Luca is currently streaming on Disney +. It will later be available on pay-per-view and physical mediums later this year.