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The Echo
Taylor University, Upland, IN
Thursday, May 30, 2024
The Echo

New friends seek new adventures

"Luca” promises laughter mixed with a heartfelt narrative

The premise of “Luca” is simple — a boy is given the summer of a lifetime filled with adventure, fun and new friends, but is met with the danger of having a huge secret blown. 

The Disney/Pixar collaboration film, “Luca,” was released on Disney+ on June 18. The film follows the story of a little boy named Luca who battles between being a kid and keeping the secret of being a sea monster. 

Being a sea monster in the human world is risky.

In the beginning of the movie, the protagonist is found in his normal routine of caring for the sea animals. As his eyes meet an alarm clock, everything changes. That alarm clock would lead to meeting Alberto, another young boy who refuses to allow his identity as a sea monster to constrain him to an ordinary life. 

A coming of age film is something that Disney movies specialize in, but as I watched this, something felt different. I found a deeper attachment for Luca in his pursuit to seek the adventure that lies in youth. 

Alberto lives a life of adventure. Luca craves that same life. 

The duo bonds over their love of wanting to learn more about the things around them, centering on a Vespa. In their bonding, they attempt to build their own bike from scrap materials that Alberto has collected. In their midst of countless attempts to create their Vespa, I often found myself laughing as I remember my childhood being filled with similar endeavors of nearly impossible contraptions. 

Alberto and Luca continue to grow closer, causing their mindsets to become fixated on seeing the world — riding their Vespa and going to far places. 

As the team fails to build a working bike, they decide to take another route to acquiring one — buying it. The way to buy it: winning the Portorosso cup, a triathlon made up of swimming, eating pasta and cycling. 

Luca and Alberto meet Giulia, a spunky local girl from Italy who has competed several times in the Portorosso cup, each time on her own. After much convincing, the three decide to join forces to take down the longtime champ, Ercole Visconti. The creation of Ercole’s character felt quite stereotypical antagonist, a drawback in comparison to the other characters being quite dynamic. 

Ercole knows he is good. He refuses to let some kids take his title. He is also on the man hunt to take out the sea monster, leading the man-hunt alongside the rest of Italy. 

The three train together, all while trying to keep their identities a secret. 

“Luca” offers a story filled with a lot of lightness. Between watching Luca and Alberto make a hot mess on wheels and calling it a Vespa to seeing them slurp up pasta for the first time, it shows two boys having fun together as they enjoy their summer. This movie gets to the heart of kids wanting to pursue adventure with their friends. I appreciated that a lot as a young adult who is aiming to soak up the last bit of my summer. 

Although the producers aimed to make a fun summer hit, they did not back away from presenting heavy ideas embedded into the film. Utilizing characters that are sea monsters, this film touches on hiding identities because of fear, which is a very relatable feeling to most people. Alberto touches on his way of attacking fear — screaming “silencio bruno.” The way Alberto encourages Luca to silence the fear calls me to learn to do the same. Embedding this in the story leads this film to go deeper, leaving a lasting impression on young audiences. 

I know it sure left me thinking. 

Overall, I enjoyed this film and the topics that surround it. Although I appreciated the ending (and won’t spoil it), it comes rather quickly and seems to undermine the message of acceptance in the movie. I wish it would’ve shown more of the process of acceptance, but maybe that’s what distinguishes this as a movie for children in a utopian sea monster city of Italy.The lighthearted film screamed summer and youth, and I plan to watch it many more times.