By: Mariah Colon
Disney’s Pixar is a controversial topic among film critics due to what many describe as the studio’s fall from grace. Since the end of the company’s golden g age in 2010, its films have gotten less traction and for good reason. Recently the studio has been producing average children’s films, not the masterpieces they came to be known for. “Luca,” their most recent project, is yet another example of this mediocrity.
“Luca” undoubtedly has made an impression, but it’s not due to the film being good. Many viewers got at- tached to the relationship between protagonist Luca and his newfound best friend Alberto and the subtle im- plications that the feelings between the two boys were more than platonic.
Had fans of the film not jumped and made their own narratives about Luca and Alberto, though, it’s incred- ibly likely that the movie would have been thrown in the pile of modern, mediocre Pixar films. The characters are forgettable and hardly fleshed out.
Luca doesn’t have enough traits to be considered three-dimensional. He’s a sea monster in a world of humans—an outcast. We’ve seen this trope countless times, and the film does nothing special with it. Alberto has the basis for an interesting character, but there isn’t enough time given to properly flesh out what makes him compelling. He’s a young sea creature who was abandoned by his father. The movie seemingly attempts to do the found family trope with him, but it’s so glossed over that it can hardly be considered an important part of the story. Then there’s Giulia, the third protagonist in the film who befriends Luca and Alberto. To be honest, before starting this article, I had to look up her name: that’s how forgettable she is. She’s really only used to develop Luca’s character and fuel some conflict.
Characters aside, the plot itself is boring and rushed. How it manages to be both is beyond me.
So how did “Luca” become so popular? Well, simply put, it was by accident. The idea of Luca and Alberto being outsiders while also being extremely close to each other touched the hearts of many LGBTQ+ viewers. Feeling out of place is common for queer youth, and that’s exactly how the boys felt in human society. On top of that, the way Alberto and Luca interact comes off as more than just a platonic relationship. For example, at one part of the film, Alberto gets so upset with Luca for spending time with Guilia that they get in a fight and Alberto ends up outing himself as a sea monster. Tell me that’s not dripping with metaphor and implications!
When asked about “Luca” possibly being a queer story, though, director Enrico Casarosa said, “I was really keen to talk about a friendship before girlfriends and boyfriends come in to complicate things.”
Essentially, “Luca” wasn’t intended to be an LGBTQ+ film, yet the movie’s queer subtext is the reason it got so popular, despite the movie itself being mediocre.