The following contains minor SPOILERS for Pixar's Luca.
The newest Pixar movie is here. Luca is, by all accounts, something that looks and feels a bit different from the normal Pixar project. It's a small, simple story with comparatively low stakes. Even the animation design doesn't really make one think of Pixar, but instead, another popular animation studio. Perhaps for that reason, Luca, like Soul before it, was treated a bit differently and wasn't given the massive big screen rollout out that had previously been promised. Instead the movie debuted on Disney+.
Of course, putting Luca on Disney+, and without an additional cost, means that a lot of people have incredibly easy access to the newest movie by one of the most beloved film studios working today. So is Luca a smaller/lesser effort from Pixar, or is it everything fans could possibly want? Let's see what the fans have to say.
Luca's Simple Story Is Actually A Strength
Luca may be seen as a simple story about a group of friends spending their summer together, but that doesn't mean that's bad. In the end, simple things like friendship are important even if they're not incredibly earth-shattering concepts. Sometimes the simple things can be what brings you true joy. And a lot of fans are embracing Luca not in spite of its story, but because of it.
It would seem that the key is Luca is sincere in its simplicity, and that sincerity comes through. Luca is just the sort of movie that makes people happy, and sometimes that's just everything that you need.
Luca Has Great Characters
Luca's focus is on a friendship between three kids, two of them being sea monsters in disguise. While those relationships are certainly central to the film, and a different topic we'll get to in a minute, there's also some serious love for some of the supporting characters coming from fans of Luca. First and foremost, let's give some serious love to Giulia's dad. He comes across as a big, strong, traditionally macho guy, but there's so much more to him, and people are falling in love with him as much as they are the trio of heroes.
Although it has to be said that if fans love Mr. Massimo Marcovaldo, it might actually be because what they really love is his cat, Machiavelli. The cat has already become a meme and a gif on social media. One gets the distinct impression this cat will be giving us the side eye for years to come on Twitter. But most people seem ok with that.
But for every supporting character who people fall in love with, there's going to be one who simply wasn't given the chance he deserved. There is some love for Uncle Ugo, who is voiced by the excellent Sacha Baron Cohen, but maybe not enough for how great he is. And if you haven't seen Ugo's post-credits scene, go back and watch Luca again.
Luca's Subtext Is Powerful
But now it's time to address the big topic of conversation in Luca. The movie is about two young boys who build a close relationship, while also coming to terms with who, and what, they really are. While the movie is never overt in its gay themes, those themes are still pretty obvious, and a lot of people are talking about just how special that is to see in a movie like this.
The relationship between Luca and Alberto is certainly powerful, whether you read it as gay or not, but many fans recognized that the film's emotional finale, as well as several other moments in the film, were strikingly similar to moments found in Call Me By Your Name. Which, for many ,is proof enough that even if the movie is not explicitly gay, the coding is quite intentional.
And if you needed any more evidence that this reading is meant to be, many fans pointed out that the two nameless characters who turn out to also be sea creatures in disguise, who have apparently been living in town this entire time, are a pair of women.
Pixar Will Make You Cry Once More
However you feel about the relationship between Alberto and Luca, it seems clear that it is one that is as emotional for viewers as anything Pixar has done to date. As this friendship, or possibly more, goes through its various trials and tribulations, it going to mean as much for fans as it does for the characters on the screen. Some may see Luca as a smaller or lighter movie with low stakes, but not everybody is seeing that.
Pixar wields the power of empathy effectively. When everything works just right, the studio can make an audience feel for a character who isn't simply fictional, but exists as little more than a combination of polygons. Whether you see the relationship between Alberto and Luca as romantic or platonic, it's a relationship that everybody seems quite invested in by the end of it all. I would wager that just about everybody felt real pain just like Alberto when he was at his lowest point.
If Luca doesn't leave you in an emotional state in its final moments, then it looks like maybe you weren't paying attention. I'm not sure there was a dry eye in any house that has Disney+ recently if they've had the chance to actually watch Luca in the last week.
Whether or not Luca is truly the next great Pixar movie is a question we won't be able to answer mere days after the movie was released. We'll have to wait and see how people react to it in the long term. Will it truly stand the test of time? In the short term, however, it does look like Luca is a film that most everybody enjoys. There are virtually no negative comments about it. It is, at worst, a fun little movie, and it is, at best, a potentially groundbreaking film bringing representation to places we don't normally see it.