LUCA – Review by Susan Granger

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Once upon a time near a beautiful seaside town in the Cinque Terra region of the Italian Riviera, two young mermen – or, as the locals called them, ‘sea monsters’ – spend an unforgettable summer together.

Despite cautionary warnings from his parents (voiced by Maya Rudolph/Jim Gaffigan), teenage Luca (voiced by Jacob Tremblay) is curious about the world that’s above the surface of the sea where he and his family live.

Venturing out of the water and onto the beach one day, Luca discovers that, when he dries off, his fish-tail morphs into legs. He’s not quite sure how to use these strange appendages but a new-found friend, fellow sea monster/boy Alberto (Jack Dylan Grazer), encourages him to experiment with walking, then running and climbing.

Visiting the ‘human’ town of Portorosso in search of a Vespa scooter, Luca and Alberto befriend rebellious Giulia (voiced by Emma Berman) who is determined to win the annual triathlon, consisting of swimming, pasta consumption, and bicycling down winding, stone-paved streets, despite taunting from obnoxious Ercole Visconti (voiced by Saverio Raimondo).

Having shown Giulia’s father (voiced by Marco Barricelli) where to find the best spot to fish, Luca and Alberto are readily accepted onto her ‘team’ for the upcoming competition while keeping their ‘true’ identities a secret from the townspeople who are terrified of ‘sea monsters.’

Based on a story by Enrico Casarosa, Jesse Andrews and Simon Stephenson, it’s freshly scripted by Jesse Andrews and Mike Jones. Their fantasy-quest chronicles how a fervent, if short-lived friendship can change one’s life forever.

Genoa’s first-time feature director Enrico Casarosa , who impressed with his animated short “La Luna” (2010), has a distinct visual flair. The soft, pastel-tinted characters look hand-drawn with rounded edges. The heaping plates of pasta are mouth-watering and drenching rain is meticulously detailed.

FYI: Pixar Easter egg fans: note how street names pay homage to authors/filmmakers.

On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, “Luca” is a whimsical 8, sweetly splashy, family-friendly fare, streaming on Disney+.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.