Luca Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

“Luka” / Luca

Genre cartoon
Directed by Enrico Casaroza
Cast: Jacob Tremblay (Luca Paguro), Jack Dylan Grazer (Alberto Scorfano), Emma Berman (Julia), Marco Barricelli (Julia’s father), Maya Rudolph (Luca’s mother), Jim Gaffigan (Luca’s father), Sandy Martin (Luca’s grandmother) and etc.
Pixar Animation Studios, Walt Disney Pictures
Release year 2021
Site IMDb

Luka is an inquisitive boy who spends his days doing errands for his mother, secretly dreaming of something more. There is nothing special in his life, except, perhaps, for one circumstance – the hero lives under water, where he and other sea creatures coexist peacefully. Calm monotony comes to an end when Luca meets Alberto – he shows by his own example that people like them, having gone to land, can turn into people. Indeed, Luka and Alberto cannot be distinguished from ordinary guys, unless water gets on them – then the heroes become covered with scales, returning to their usual appearance.

Fascinated by turning into people, the boys explore the features of earthly life and even make two-wheeled vehicles, but soon they have a big dream – they want to get a real scooter on which the heroes can travel around the world. To fulfill their wish, friends need to infiltrate the seaside town, pretending to be ordinary children. It seems that there is nothing difficult in this, however, almost all local residents are afraid of sea monsters, and someone even walks around with a harpoon. It is better for the heroes not to get caught and not to give themselves away.

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In the new Pixar cartoon, the characters do not have smartphones or other modern trappings. The action takes place around the 50s or 60s in the suburbs, so other things are considered valuable. For example, decks of playing cards and vinyl players. And the Vespa, the famous Italian motor scooter, becomes the limit of desires, on which you can race along winding and very narrow streets covered with uneven paving stones.

Thinking through such details, director Enrico Casarosa recalled his carefree youth. He lived in the city of Genoa, so he often visited the sea. When Enrico was 11-12 years old, he had a best friend, thanks to whom the future filmmaker became a less shy child and was ready for adventures that gave a sense of freedom. The cartoon really fully conveys the delight at a meeting with the unknown, which happens only in childhood. And the special atmosphere of a hot summer spent on the seashore turns ordinary events like fishing or sports competitions into unforgettable events.

Of course, to all this, Pixar Animation Studios adds a magical contrast of colors to make the difference between the land and the underwater world noticeable. The sea here shimmers with different shades, highlighting the differences between the translucent waves crashing on a pebbly beach and the deep waters in which Luka’s family lives.

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Most of all, the subtleties of the image of the Italian Riviera are remembered. When Luca and Albert muster up the courage to appear in the city, the central square opens up in front of them with access to the sea. There, near a small fountain, there are houses with faded yellow-orange facades, to which movie posters are attached. Practically on all houses, under green shutters, clotheslines hang, and round tables are placed at the doors, waiting for visitors to small establishments. The cafe sells ice cream in waffle cones, which will flash in the frame more than once (even in the cartoon they pay special attention to pasta, provoking a feeling of hunger in the audience). There are a lot of such trifles, they can be seen even in those seconds when the heroes go down the street with a steep slope, rushing past someone’s balconies, equipped for the contemplation of passers-by.

Such meticulous depiction of urban details is reminiscent of the work of the animators of the cartoon “Soul” (Soul) – they reproduced New York with all sorts of nuances, paying attention to literally every sign. Pixar has been looking for authenticity lately, so for a cartoon about a seaside town, the Luca creative team traveled to Italy to capture the mundane yet recognizable details of seaports and tiny fishing villages. What can I say, it turned out really nice.

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To plunge into the atmosphere of the wonderful city of Portorosso, you first need to get acquainted with the underwater world, which was Luka’s home. Somehow it turned out that these scenes that open the cartoon seem very simple and uncomplicated. It seems that this time Pixar is deliberately making a cartoon for a younger audience, but do not rush to conclusions – as soon as Luka and Albert get on land, funny and funny adventures begin. They feature a mustachioed cat, an extraordinary girl Julia, an armless fisherman, a local dude with a badass character, as well as charming grandmothers from whom you can expect any surprises.

The main characters of the cartoon are eager to discover new opportunities for themselves, they overcome the fear of being different from others and try to find something that captivates them with their heads. Thanks to the characters of the cartoon “Luka”, director Enrico Casarosa talks about the desire to know the world, he also shows the naive and very valuable childhood friendship, which, thanks to a rich imagination, erases any boundaries and obstacles. There is no sadness of growing up in this story, here happy moments are frozen in a sense of the exciting freedom that summer gives.

It’s hard to believe Luca is Enrico Casarosa’s directorial debut, but it’s no surprise that he captured the mood of Pixar cartoons. Casarosa was part of the creative team that worked on the cartoons “Up” (Up) and “Coco» (Coco). And he himself released a short cartoon “Moon” (La Luna), which was nominated for an Oscar.

Pros: charming details of the Italian Riviera; color contrast between sea and land; funny and funny adventures of heroes in a seaside city; a story about friendship and inner freedom Cons: at first it seems that the plot is completely childish – because of the first scenes under water Conclusion:

a cartoon with a wonderful summer atmosphere, thanks to which the viewer finds himself in the seaside suburb of Italy for an hour and a half.

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