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REVIEW: “Luca”; A Movie With A Lot Of Potential That Just Never Gets Off The Ground

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One thing I have to praise Pixar for, with the release of their latest animated film – at least Luca is an original story and not a sequel. The glory years of Pixar occurred when they promised us that new and original stories would always be their main focus, other than sequels to the Toy Story franchise. But then Cars 2 came along and they somehow realized that it was easier to make money with an already built-in audience and didn’t need to be overly concerned about originality and story.

To see that the last three films made by Pixar – Onward, Soul and Luca – were all original and new stories, seemed like a sign that maybe they learned their lesson and were returning to the promise that they once made. Unfortunately, the last three movies were not the best efforts by Pixar. It leaves me wondering if Pixar is still capable of creating a new and original story that is fun and entertaining? After seeing Luca, I’d say Pixar is in trouble.

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Luca is set in a beautiful seaside town on the Italian Riviera. It is a coming-of-age story about one young boy experiencing an unforgettable summer filled with gelato, pasta and endless scooter rides. Luca shares these adventures with his newfound best friend, but all the fun is threatened by a deeply-held secret: he is a sea monster from another world just below the water’s surface.

Sadly, Luca may be the absolute worst film that Pixar has ever made. I would gladly watch The Good Dinosaur and even Cars 2 before I would watch Luca again. There are so many problems with this film, but I wanted to start with what I felt was good first.

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Luca takes place in Italy around the 1950’s, and I love that they use authentic Italian pop music from that era. I have never heard of most of the songs that are played throughout the film, but they sound like they fit the time period and they sound very Italian.

Another positive is that, at times, the animation looks incredible. The opening scene with a pair of fishermen out on the sea on their fishing boat looks incredible. I had such high hopes within the first five minutes. Pixar also got the look of an old Italian village right. And the landscapes look absolutely beautiful.

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Now, for the bad. The character designs of the sea monsters and humans are just awful. Pixar used to mean quality. No other studio, even Disney at times, could touch the level of animation that Pixar was able to come out with year after year. Each movie seemed to set a new standard in how far you can go with CGI animation. What happened? These characters are on par with the humans from Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs. They just do not look good, nor are they memorable.

Speaking of not being memorable, after watching Luca, I dare you to name the three main characters. OK, I’ll give you Luca, but no one character is memorable in this movie. And that has a lot to do with the story. It’s boring. On top of all of that, the story also feels rushed. It’s like they wrote a beginning and an ending first, and then said, we’ll worry about what happens in the middle as we go. I can’t see why anyone would want to revisit this movie multiple times other than to maybe experience it using a different audio track, like Italian.

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Which brings me to the next problem, the voice acting. What I loved about Brave, was that everyone spoke with a Scottish brogue. The same thing occurred with Coco. People sounded as though they came from a true Mexican heritage. Luca has the main characters all speak with American accents and use slang from the current day. If a movie is set during a certain time period, stick to the language or dialect that was used back then.

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Italian actor and comedian Roberto Benigni

If this is a movie that takes place in Italy in the 50’s, then at the very least, hire Italian actors that sound Italian. Roberto Benigni would have been perfect for a movie like this. Instead they hired comedians like Maya Rudolph, Jim Gaffigan and Sacha Baron Cohen, who just aren’t funny in this. That’s not to say that no one speaks with an Italian accent. Most of the villagers do. But for some reason, they decided to have the three main characters and the sea monster all talk using American accents and slang.

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And similar to my one complaint with Raya And The Last Dragon, sometimes it’s better when characters just don’t talk. I think it would have been a more emotional story if the sea monsters did not speak. Or maybe just have Luca come ashore and have him communicate with the human girl through his actions. Sometimes expressing yourself without words is more effective. Can you imagine if Toothless talked in How To Train Your Dragon? The movie would have lost its charm. And that is exactly what this movie is lacking: charm. You don’t have any sympathy or connection to any of the characters.

I thought this movie had so much potential, but the lack of a good story and beautiful character designs resulted in the worst Pixar movie ever made, in my opinion. It kind of makes sense now why Luca is not part of Disney+’s Premium Access features. If people had to pay money for a movie like this, I think a lot of subscribers would be more hesitant to make future Premium Access movie purchases. Pixar has been really stumbling for years. Let’s hope that this is a wake up call for them. I’m happy that we are getting fewer sequels, but let’s hope we start getting more classics soon.

I give Luca a 4/10.

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Thomas Hoang
Thomas Hoang
1 month ago

Couldn’t disagree more with this review. Just watched it and loved it!

hedeon
hedeon
1 month ago
Reply to  Thomas Hoang

it doesnt mean that is good, u just liked it. It doesn’t mean that the movie is good.

Erin
Erin
26 days ago
Reply to  hedeon

It’s an opinion. Just like the opinion of Mr. Hogarty. It’s art. With art you can love it or not but calling it bad is just an opinion.

May
May
1 month ago

“Can you imagine if Toothless talked in How To Train Your Dragon?” Toothless does talk in the book, and he’s a very interesting little thing: selfish, obnoxious, lazy, worthless. The movie changed it and ruined it.

Allison
Allison
26 days ago
Reply to  May

I came to say just this!! I loved that toothless talked in the book. The movie is horrible if you’ve read the book.

May
May
1 month ago

Nothing you said about Luca surprises me. That’s everything the preview promises: a simple little story about a little boy and his ocean friend. Not much can you get out of it: no sea witch, no romance, no handsome prince, no nothing. A boy’s version of the little mermaid.

Marco
Marco
1 month ago

On the other hand, I completely disagree with this review, as I consider Luca a real original masterpiece, and it very much reflects Italy (which is completely different from the United States of America). Yes, I confirm that the English dub is the only thing that ruins it, in fact only the Italian dubbing manages to recreate the real environment … but that bond, friendship and team, are one of the most beautiful features that can to represent. I vote Luca a 9/10 (I would only have improved the characters on a facial level, yes, but it doesn’t matter, what… Read more »

Jim
Jim
1 month ago

Pretty hard on a movie that has an 89% Rotten Tomatoes score. Seems like it may be worth having someone else on your staff take a stab at this one for a second opinion. My kids enjoyed it. They didn’t like Soul, so would likely put this ahead of that one. I’d say it’s on par with Onward and I’d rather watch this again than The Good Dinosaur. I also liked Cars 2, so different strokes, I guess… I do agree that it doesn’t match the story quality of the Pixar golden age. It did feel more like a younger… Read more »

Joe Rino
Joe Rino
1 month ago

Thanks for your review! You make some great points, I agree! Italian Actors should have been hired here… the authenticity would have been great… not sure why this creative choice was made. I’m sure there are many Italian actors that would have loved to make their mark!

Trisha Campanelli
Trisha Campanelli
26 days ago
Reply to  Joe Rino

I couldn’t agree more Joe- why weren’t Italian or even Italian-American actors hired for this? I presume it will be better to watch it in Italian as will be voiced by Italians so I will watch it in Italian.

Elizabeth
1 month ago

I actually disagree with so much of this! I thought Luca was on of the best! It has Ratatouille charm and is a beautiful story about Childhood and friendship! It was refreshing to have a Pixar movie that felt like a kids movie (without so much theme and content going over their heads) and was also fun to watch as a parent! Honestly one of my top three Pixar Movies! And I loved the animation! It wasn’t trying to be real life, it was trying to be cartoon.

Javier
Javier
1 month ago

Who hired you as a critic? They really need to reevaluate your credentials, since you clearly think your wrong opinion is objectively right. You must be high off your mind if you think that the last 3 movies are bad, including Luca. If anything, this is the one movie that feels like it could definitely benefit from a sequel.

Allison
Allison
26 days ago
Reply to  Javier

I agree. My kids both loved it and my son said he thinks they should do a sequel about how Luca does at school. None of my family liked Soul but we all enjoyed Onward and Luca

jake
jake
1 month ago

I love luca i think all the people that love it are the best i give luca a 10/10

Luigi
Luigi
1 month ago

My only two gripes with the movie is that the main characters Luca and alberto didn’t have more Italian accents how do you make a movie about Italians and call the grandma Nonna!!!

Trisha Campanelli
Trisha Campanelli
26 days ago
Reply to  Luigi

I couldn’t agree more Luigi. A film based in Italy, and the main voices are non-Italian actors. Vergogna.

PixilEye
PixilEye
1 month ago

BRO I WATCHED THIS MOVIE FOR MY SECOND-TO-LAST CLASS AND IT WAS ONE OF THE BEST MOVIES I HAVE WATCHED (although I watched like only 0.001 other movies) IF NOT THE BEST. the ONLY thing I agree about this “review” is that it had a liiiitle bit less charm than some other movies. oh yea and plus the italian accent things.

Last edited 1 month ago by PixilEye
Rick
Rick
27 days ago

I’m convinced that this article was written intentionally to stir the pot. Negative comments are still comments. Well played wdwnt. We all know that there’s no way anyone could actually feel this way about such a great movie.

Tom Corless
Admin
25 days ago
Reply to  Rick

It’s not at 100% with critics or the audience. Honestly, I myself found it a little boring and stale.

Erin
Erin
26 days ago

I loved Luca! It is a lovely movie. You make a very good point with the accents. The story, however, really moved me. I cried. While I understand that Pixar animators have been pioneers with regards to the advancement of animation, it also feels unfair to ask them to reinvent the wheel every time they release a movie. They chose a wonderful style of animation and I don’t think it diminishes the story at all. Some of the animation of the water and the sky was incredible!

Allison
Allison
26 days ago

I disagree. My whole family enjoyed this one and my kids have watched it numerous times. I do agree about the voice acting though.

Rasday
Rasday
17 days ago

As an Italian-Canadian I can say I whole-heartedly agree with your review. The animation was awkward looking and since when do all Italians have curly hair? It’s really a shame that Pixar didn’t bother to use Italian voice Actors. I have to applaud Sony Pictures Animation and Columbia Pictures for Wish Dragon with an almost completely Asian cast! Initially, I was so excited about their FINALLY being an Italian based Disney movie, unfortunately, I was really disappointed.

Evan
Evan
15 days ago

This is why Pixar can’t do anything new. People call this fantastic movie boring because it’s not in Pixar’s stupid lineup of grand, overly complicated worlds and storylines. I think Pixar sometimes relies too heavily on making you cry, to the point where it’s almost always forced (Inside Out). Luca is a simple coming of age movie. The ending was a bit rushed but I think this movie is as good as any movie from its “glory days” (calling any Toy Story movie “good” is ridiculous).

Haden
Haden
14 days ago

Pretty sure Joe is also part of the “Elden Ring needs an easy mode” lot. Out of touch and objectively incorrect.

Ryder
Ryder
9 days ago

You know what I think? This was released on Disney Plus. Cars 2 and The Good Dinosaur weren’t. Ergo, you got distracted looking at your phone instead of watching the movie, which you couldn’t do with the other two.

William
William
7 days ago

4/10? Oh, come on. You have completely dismissed the power of the story here. It’s a great coming of age story about being yourself. Did you even consider how a story like this could impact youth, especially LGBTQ youth (or adults who never found acceptance as youth)? Not even a mention of it. As other reviewers (Slate, Vanity Fair, etc,) have pointed out, this film which you claim to be the WORST Pixar film ever is ground-breaking in its queerness. You’re so caught up in the technical aspects of animation and accents that you have completely missed the power of… Read more »

Mohamed
Mohamed
7 days ago

So many people enjoy this film and I honestly don’t know why.. I felt nothing after the film and it didn’t grab my attention at all, the sus cat made me chuckle tho… I guess I grew up on kids films now lol, I don’t know.. I love cartoon, anime, fantasy and sci-fi films but this one for sure wasn’t my taste… I gave it a 5/10 or a max of 6/10 also my sister gave it a 7/10, so I agree with your review.