Pixar’s 24th animated feature is a blast of joy and sunshine as a curious sea creature 

discovers the wonder of being human.


Jumping for joy: Alberto and Luca


A key line in Luca, Pixar’s twenty-fourth animated feature, is delivered as a warning issued by Luca’s mom: “The curious fish gets caught.” But Luca, an indeterminate sea creature, is young and full of energy and desperate to learn new things. He collects knickknacks from the human world that have sunk to the ocean floor and wonders of what is beyond. “Mama, where do boats come from?” he enquires. Meanwhile, on the Italian Riviera, children tremble in their beds at the thought of sea monsters in the bay. Then, one day, Luca chases a piscine stranger up to the surface and discovers himself ‘beached.’ And, once on land, he assumes the form of a human boy. The stranger, going by the name of Alberto Scorfano, is an old hand at this sort of thing, and takes Luca under his fin…


Enrico Casarosa’s Luca (the director’s first feature) has been criticised for being ‘minor’ Pixar, for being “slight.” Yet besides its endless inventiveness and sheer pleasure, it actually deals with a lot of serious issues. Essentially, it’s a diatribe against xenophobia: we fear those we don’t understand. And so the humans learn from their aquatic brethren, and the fish from them. Besides, we also discover an awful lot about Italy, its customs, food and local idioms. Here, as presented by the Genoa-born Casarosa, Liguria is a bustling Eden, with its narrow cobbled streets, Juliet balconies and fountained piazzas. But the ocean, too, is a paradise, in which the simplest experience attains a kind of magic: such as when Luca admires his reflection in a bubble. It’s a magical world, indeed. But just imagine his wonder when he encounters the sunshine, trees, vineyards and gelato of the Italian fishing village that is Portorosso. Now Luca wants to be a human boy. Inevitably, Carlo Collodi's Pinocchio is referenced, as is Fellini’s La Strada, so we know we’re in the mid-1950s (Casarosa cites Fellini as an influence). Here, then, the height of modern technology is the ubiquitous Vespa.


There is so much packed into the film’s 95 minutes, that one daren’t look away. Even the closing credits are a joy, with hand-drawn sketches that continue the story of the characters we have come to love. And when the film ends with the legend “produced in our slippers around the bay area,” one appreciates the miracle that is modern computer animation. It’s just a shame that, with cinemas now open, only those with a Disney+ account can enjoy it.




Voices of  Jacob Tremblay, Jack Dylan Grazer, Emma Berman, Saverio Raimondo, Maya Rudolph, Marco Barricelli, Jim Gaffigan, Marina Massironi, Sandy Martin, Sacha Baron Cohen.


Dir Enrico Casarosa, Pro Andrea Warren, Screenplay Jesse Andrews and Mike Jones, from a story by Enrico Casarosa, Jesse Andrews and Simon Stephenson, Ph David Juan Bianchi and Kim White, Pro Des Daniela Strijleva, Ed Catherine Apple and Jason Hudak, Music Dan Romer, Sound Christopher Scarabosio.


Walt Disney Pictures/Pixar Animation Studios-Walt Disney.

95 mins. USA. 2021. Rel: 18 June 2021. Available on Disney+. Cert. PG.