Disney Pixar’s latest release is Luca, and it’s skipping a theatrical release and swimming straight to Disney+ with no premium. Debating Luca for Family movie night? My kids and I say it’s definitely worth the watch. Will you be watching it over and over for days to come? Debatable. Read on for our spoiler-free Pixar Luca review, my kids’ review, including which one thought Luca was “scarier than Jaws” and which one thought it was a Little Mermaid ripoff. This followed by our suggested discussion questions at the end.
Luca: A Parent’s Review
First, you should know this is a bright and colorful Pixar film less about sea monsters and more about friendship and coming of age. And Italy. And dreams… Actually it was about a lot of things. And for a movie that was only 1 hour and 35 minutes, it flew by. Although it was a sweet story for the little kids, the accents did take a little getting used to. And there are a couple of parts that seemed a little dark and scary. It didn’t jump out at me that way, but my son thought it was a little intense. There is a lot to love about this movie, and since it’s included with a regular Disney+ subscription there’s nothing to lose with giving this a watch for your family movie night.
That said, I don’t see this movie shooting to the top of any “Best of Disney” lists. Perhaps for those who have a big place in their hearts for a childhood friendship, or a soft spot for Italy. But for the rest of us? I’d say this goes on the “good, not great” list. Right beside Onward which was good but not GREAT. You know what we’ve come to expect from Pixar… I’m sorry, but the bar is high. More on that in a bit. But first, let me dive into what I did love about the movie.
What I Loved
First of all let me give Pixar a round of applause for having a movie about a sweet friendship between two characters of the same sex. It sounds funny but when have we seen that among humans before? We have friendship among toys, cars, monsters, elves. And boy/girl friendships and family bonds. But a sweet story about two little boys (ok, they are sea monsters, but mostly boys) who are hugging and playing–This is new. It reminded me of the friendship between my son and one of his little best friends and I loved seeing that on screen.
Although the accents were a little tricky for my kids to navigate at first, they caught on. It was good for them to hear it. There’s a subtle message about accepting others, and discrimination, or how far things can go when people are scared. And often people fear what they don’t know. There’s a disabled person who is extremely capable, and I love seeing that representation.
Add to that a fun new animation style that was bright and colorful in an Italian backdrop, and there’s a lot to love.
Alright, now can we get a hallelujah for having two parents that make it through a Disney movie? That said, we see different family makeups in the movie (two parents, single dad, etc.) which again, I love for representation. I appreciated that the parents were concerned and loving, and that we even got to see them evolve through the film.
What I Didn’t Love
So why was it “just good” and not great? There was a lot going on, and none of the plotlines seemed to develop to the point of a grand emotional climax. I expected to laugh more, cry and all around be more emotionally invested. Are my expectations too high? Probably. But that’s where Pixar has set the bar.
Luca is very sweet, but when you stand it next to movies like Soul, Toy Story, Inside Out, or Coco, it doesn’t hold a candle to them. There was a lot going on and I wish they’d picked one train and gone deeper into that vs trying to take several tracks.
My kids, on the other hand, really enjoyed the movie. And I think this is one of those films that is going to appeal to kids more. There weren’t as many jokes for the grownups, but I did enjoy watching my little ones light up seeing characters their age on screen.
Read on for their reviews.
A Kids Review of Pixar’s Luca
What did you think of the movie?
Jayda: I think it was a really really good family movie. At first I thought it was going to copy The Little Mermaid.
So did you like it?
Ty: It was in the middle.
Ty: I know it’s a brand new show. I kind of like old scary shows more.
Jayda: He’s been under the sea basically his whole life and he gets to see the world. Kind of like Ariel.
Did you think it was funny? What was the funniest part to you?
Jayda: Yes. I didn’t think it was as funny as Mitchells vs Machines but I thought it was really funny. I thought it was funny when he was drinking and spit out the water and got in his face.
Ty: It’s a funny Pixar movie. I don’t want to spoil.
Would you recommend it to your friends?
Jayda: I would recommend it for a movie night. But not really to watch alone. Because I feel like if you’re watching it alone, it’s kinda a kiddie movie, but it’s a really good family movie.
Ty: Yes, I think they would like it more than I did. Just my opinion.
What lesson did you learn?
Jayda: I learned that it’s ok to face your fears and don’t be afraid to show your true self.
Ty: I learned that if you’re going to space or something you’re just dreaming. Unless you’re imagining and your mind is playing tricks on you. Or if you’re playing with your friends.
So do you think they had big imaginations? Did you like that?
Ty: Yea. Sometimes if you think guys are mean, they’re nice.
Who was your favorite character?
Jayda: Luca because I felt like he was kinda cautious like me.
Ty: Luca, because he’s the main character.
Who would you recommend this movie for?
Jayda: Families of all ages.
Do you think it’s made for older kids?
Jayda: I think it’s for older kids with families and I liked that I watched it with my family. I don’t think it’s too kiddie. But I maybe wouldn’t recommend it to older kids but I’d definitely recommend it to families to watch together.
Did you think it was scary?
Jayda: No, not at all.
Ty: It was a little scary. Jaws wasn’t even as scary as that. That was scarier than Jaws. Because of the dark.
Would you want to watch it again?
Jayda: Definitely, it’s on my watch-again list.
Ty: Three more times.
How would you rank it compared to other Disney Pixar movies?
Jayda: It’s hard. I’m excited because this is new. I’d probably tie it with Onward, and Luca would be 1/8in more.
Ty: I liked it more than Monsters Inc. But not more than Cars, or Finding Nemo or Finding Dory. I liked Onward more.
What was your favorite part?
Jayda: “Wild Vespas!”
Ty: I liked the beginning and near the end.
What would you rank it out of 10?
J: 6.5 or 7
Things to Talk About
Finally, movies like Soul, gave us a lot to think about and lessons to discuss and I think there’s something we can try to pull from every movie. Here are some ideas for discussion questions you can ask each other after watching Luca:
How did you meet your best friend? Does your best friend help you feel courageous? Why or why not? When might you use “Silencio Bruno!”?
Also, we like to discuss the movies during the end credits while we wait to see if there’s a bonus end-credit scene (there is!)
So there are our thoughts in a nutshell. I’m excited to hear what you think. Please let us know if you’re planning to watch Luca on Disney+ and if/when you do, what you thought!
Luca swims into Disney+ on Friday June 18th.