6.5/10 A nominee for Best Animated Feature at the upcoming Academy Awards, “Luca” is the second of three Disney/Pixar films (so far) to be ripped from theaters at the last minute and sent straight to streaming, to the dismay of many Pixar employees who expected the fruits of their labors to end up on the big screen. Unlike “Soul” however, this is one of the weaker Disney/Pixar efforts in recent memory. Not that the film is bad by any means, but when the bar is as high as it is and the last two movies (the aforementioned “Soul” and “Onward”) were so fantastic, this definitely falls short of the last couple Disney/Pixar films as well as some of the other competition up for the same Oscar. Before I get into the problems of “Luca”, I will start off with what worked. Like all Disney/Pixar films, the voice cast couldn’t be more spot on and it’s fun to see some actors showcased who haven’t done previous voice work before. The vast majority of the animation looks fantastic with the lush Italian locations, shiny Vespas and underwater adventure. The score from Dan Romer is solid and stirs your emotions. There is definitely a sweetness to the story and some strong moral messages about acceptance, overcoming fears, friendship, etc. The pacing is perfect as the film moves along without ever overstaying its welcome. I also recognize that despite the flaws I am about to list, that most people (especially kids) will enjoy the film and most likely not mind its imperfections. As for those imperfections, most are in regards to the story. There are definitely elements of “Finding Nemo” with overprotective parent(s) who don’t want their son to venture out beyond home and “The Little Mermaid” with living underwater in the ocean with the sea life vs. up on land with humans and the differences between the two. There was also an unusually high number of inconsistencies during individual scenes. For example, during a race competition near the end of the film, characters will be within the top five leaders but when the scene cuts to the next shot, there is a huge group of people ahead of them, as if they are now in the bottom five competitors. How long it takes for characters to switch back to human looking while becoming dry was also all over the map and had zero consistency. Multiple scenes have issues like this that the film makers don’t want you to pay attention to (kids certainly won’t notice) but they still exist and are problematic. Sacha Baron Cohen is part of the voice cast but is in the film for maybe two minutes and feels completely wasted here. Despite the vast majority of the animation looking gorgeous, I do take issue with the human character appearances themselves, which didn’t measure up to the rest of the animation. The human characters looked rather overly simplified and lacked the details that every other aspect of the animation had. While kids will certainly enjoy this and there is plenty to admire, “Luca” falls short of recent Disney/Pixar offerings with some recycled plot elements and several inconsistencies. Let’s hope that “Turning Red” is a step up from this and more on par with “Soul” and “Onward”.

#LucaIAmYourFather / #CuriosityKilledTheCatfish / #WeDontListenToBruno / #PoolHandLuca / #DontLucaUp / #DirectedByLucaGuadagnino

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