News

Luca First Reviews: Decidedly Small-Scale Pixar, but a Triumph Nonetheless

Critics say Pixar's latest plays it safer than usual, but it still boasts the spectacular visuals, moving story, and important themes we've come to expect.

by | June 16, 2021 | Comments

Pixar is such a quality brand that even its “lesser” products prove to be essential for fans of their animated output. The studio’s latest feature, Luca, is arguably on that lower tier, according to critics — not among Pixar’s best but still better than most alternatives — hence the high Tomatometer score we’ve come to expect, even if there isn’t quite as much of the excitement we usually find in the reviews themselves. Some critics think that it’s too basic, while others believe its lack of complexity is a good thing. And some critics trust that there’s more to the movie than what’s on the surface and it requires repeat viewings to properly appreciate it. Fortunately for anyone hoping to find out, Luca can be watched over and over on Disney+ starting this Friday, June 18.

Here’s what critics are saying about Pixar’s Luca:


How does it compare to other Pixar movies?

Luca leans far lighter in tone and effect, but it’s no less memorable.
– Rob Hunter, Film School Rejects

Luca is easily Pixar’s most intimate and laidback effort since Ratatouille.
– Keith Watson, Slant Magazine

The last fifteen minutes of Luca might go down as one of the best endings Pixar has ever produced.
– Ryan McQuade, Awards Watch

This might be Pixar’s most childlike and cartoony offering.
– Brian Roan, The Film Stage

More of The Good Dinosaur or Onward level for me, Luca doesn’t quite reach the potential that I have grown to expect from Pixar.
– Christie Cronan, Raising Whasians

While some material may hit with younger audiences, Luca makes for Pixar’s least enchanting, least special film yet.
– Robert Daniels, RogerEbert.com


Luca

(Photo by Pixar)

Is it just a simpler Pixar movie than we’re used to?

Luca is nowhere near as complex or deep as other Pixar fare and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Doug Jamieson, The Jam Report

All the more satisfying for its simplicity… the rare Pixar movie that doesn’t feel like it’s been thought to death.
David Ehrlich, IndieWire

It is rigorously unphilosophical in a way that proves to be its greatest strength.
Clarisse Loughrey, Independent

By going back to basics, we get a real connection with these characters.
Ryan McQuade, Awards Watch

Luca has the look and feel of a more disposable flick, but that’s just on the surface. Beneath, it has the beating heart of a classic family tale in the making.
Joey Magidson, Awards Radar

Luca never quite rises beyond being adorable — and hey, these days, adorable is fine —there’s something that just isn’t there.
Moira MacDonald, Seattle Times


How are the visuals?

The real magic of Luca is its visuals… The richness of the settings in both realms is a constant source of pleasure.
David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter

Looking like a hand-drawn fairy tale book come to animated life, Luca has a captivating visual style with every detail popping.
Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times

The gorgeous animation of Luca… is unlike other Pixar movies you’ve seen.
Ian Sandwell, Digital Spy

It’s been a while since they’ve done anything visually distinct and felt vastly different from the rest of their fare. Thankfully, Luca is that breath of fresh air.
Rendy Jones, Rendy Reviews

Pixar’s Luca is proof once again that cartoon movies keep getting better and better with the technology.
Christie Cronan, Raising Whasians


(Photo by )

Does it bring on the usual waterworks?

For much of this film, you’ll be thinking Luca will be one of the rare Pixar movies not to make you cry. But… [it] may just leave you in a puddle of tears.
Doug Jamieson, The Jam Report

Yeah, it’s cliched to say “I got misty-eyed in a Pixar movie,” but damn by the way they invest you with the friendship, it’s difficult not to find yourself feeling all warm and fuzzy.
Rendy Jones, Rendy Reviews

Happy tears at how lovely it all is, fortunately, we’re not talking Toy Story 3 or Inside Out trauma here.
Ian Sandwell, Digital Spy

I watched twice and no Inside Out or Up equivalent eye watering… Luca misses the Pixar emotional pull for me.
Christie Cronan, Raising Whasians


Are the characters memorable?

Giulia’s lovable father Massimo, who instantly goes into the all-time list for best animated dads.
Ian Sandwell, Digital Spy

A translucent anglerfish who Sacha Baron Cohen turns into one of Pixar’s funniest characters in less than two minutes of screen time.
David Ehrlich, IndieWire

As always, the Pixar magicians create a wonderfully populated world: I particularly enjoyed the cat character, who stares fixedly as only cats can.
Moira MacDonald, Seattle Times


Luca

(Photo by Pixar)

How is the screenplay?

With all of its wit and perfectly interwoven story threads and running gags, [the script] bears all the hallmarks of the best of Pixar’s story trust.
Brian Roan, The Film Stage

The script… like all the best Pixar movies, laces touching life lessons and delicate helpings of sentiment into what’s essentially a caper.
David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter

Why do another narrative about a girl stuck in the middle of two best friends?… The primary story flows through the motions.
Robert Daniels, RogerEbert.com

Unfortunately, there’s also an episodic, shaggy-dog quality to the plotting that undercuts Luca’s emotional beats.
Keith Watson, Slant Magazine


Are its themes up for interpretation?

This really is a metaphorical film. The sea monsters could be any of us who feel different. Maybe they’re a metaphor for the LGBTQ community.
Danielle Solzman, Solzy at the Movies

It’s the kind of metaphor that could be applied to a hundred different situations, but there’s an inherently queer subtext bubbling beneath the surface.
Doug Jamieson, The Jam Report

Very relatable for anyone who is within the LGBTQ+ community… [and also] works for a universal audience who may not identify as LGBTQ+ but can relate to someone who is.
Ryan McQuade, Awards Watch

[It] serves as a kind of all-purpose allegory, where audiences are free to narrow in on its queer subtext, its rebuke of xenophobia, or its triumph against any facet of small-mindedness.
Clarisse Loughrey, Independent

Its themes of coming-of-age resemble too much of Pixar’s existing catalog — and without a narrative that really makes these themes feel fresh.
Nicole Clark, IGN Movies

It never settles on exactly what it wants to say… It never makes a cohesive, powerful point.
Germain Lussier, io9.com


Who is Luca ultimately for?

While Disney and Pixar’s Luca is fun for the whole family, there are some very important messages for children laced throughout the film.
Tessa Smith, Mama’s Geeky

Luca is entertainment for all ages as its bright colors and fast-moving action will appeal to the kids while the humor and themes should speak to older viewers.
Rob Hunter, Film School Rejects

While there are a few moments that may be a little tense for younger kids… I recommend Pixar’s Luca for kids as young as 5-6 years old.
Christie Cronan, Raising Whasians


Will it remind us of any other films?

Luca is the closest that Pixar has ever come to capturing the ineffable spirit of a Studio Ghibli film.
David Ehrlich, IndieWire

The smooth, rounded character designs are something more akin to the stop-motion work of Aardman Animations.
Doug Jamieson, The Jam Report

There are obvious shades of The Little Mermaid in this fairy tale-like story… but Luca plays like a deliberate inversion of that Disney classic.
Keith Watson, Slant Magazine

Luca is The Little Mermaid without the heart, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs without the laughs.
Roger Moore, Movie Nation


Luca

(Photo by Pixar)

Is it rewatchable?

Expect to visit this destination more than once.
Rob Hunter, Film School Rejects

Since it’s so dense and layered, my guess is it’ll only improve, solidify and blossom with multiple viewings… I do want to watch it again.
Germain Lussier, io9.com

It’s also so fabulously summery that you shouldn’t be surprised if you return to it over and over for that sunny feeling.
Deirdre Molumby, entertainment.ie


Will Luca leave us hopeful for Pixar’s future?

Luca should be the model going forward for Pixar, with character driving entertaining stories instead of big concepts that fail to execute and leave you feeling hollow by the end (looking at you Soul).
Ryan McQuade, Awards Watch

[It] hopefully anticipates how the monolithic animation house will continue to create more intimate fare now that it can use Disney+ as a safety net.
David Ehrlich, IndieWire


Luca releases in theaters and streams on Disney+ on June 18, 2021.

On an Apple device? Follow Rotten Tomatoes on Apple News.

Tag Cloud

historical drama Quiz Extras adaptation japan ID DGA Countdown slashers italian comic Election Avengers Tubi children's TV slasher stop motion venice suspense Wes Anderson ABC Family TV Land VOD monster movies Reality Competition Binge Guide richard e. Grant TV renewals spain PBS Hulu fresh new star wars movies Reality DC Universe blockbuster ghosts Superheroes foreign free movies obituary miniseries TCA Winter 2020 documentary politics movies FX rt archives stoner crime franchise TruTV Nickelodeon APB TCA Awards streaming movies Music Podcast renewed TV shows Winter TV science fiction Funimation satire CBS SDCC finale christmas movies 71st Emmy Awards Schedule biography Fantasy boxoffice latino Calendar Apple TV+ spy thriller comics Chernobyl series james bond saw documentaries vampires TCA 2017 Cartoon Network BET Disney Pride Month jurassic park Marathons technology space independent golden globe awards action-comedy chucky Western supernatural tv talk AMC basketball black comedy BBC One Spectrum Originals vs. streaming rotten movies we love Martial Arts SundanceTV Red Carpet robots Discovery Channel Nominations blockbusters Image Comics television Trailer parents USA Network FXX GLAAD Lucasfilm MSNBC feel good Song of Ice and Fire spider-verse rom-coms Ghostbusters biopic See It Skip It live event stand-up comedy YouTube justice league women trailers Musical zombies gangster Black Mirror spanish Alien Mystery halloween die hard Hallmark Christmas movies Ovation San Diego Comic-Con batman superman Brie Larson lord of the rings Amazon Prime australia know your critic leaderboard period drama Britbox Peacock golden globes TCM Tomatazos Lifetime Christmas movies BET Awards Sundance Now Chilling Adventures of Sabrina DC Comics spinoff Pop international Paramount Network comiccon 2019 child's play transformers fast and furious scorecard LGBTQ Rocky Tokyo Olympics cartoon laika adenture The Academy TBS GIFs a nightmare on elm street sitcom Freeform Box Office American Society of Cinematographers ABC Signature CMT adventure Fox Searchlight Instagram Live art house Logo debate royal family Pixar Crunchyroll Epix LGBT animated sequels screen actors guild nature Holiday indie game of thrones WarnerMedia what to watch Comic Book 2016 NBC Creative Arts Emmys Tumblr YouTube Red screenings Heroines hispanic heritage month 2015 Exclusive Video cults breaking bad Paramount mcc Super Bowl Rom-Com Emmys BBC America japanese Thanksgiving 007 Country YA comic book movie Opinion Anna Paquin Infographic war GoT Comedy Central TCA aliens 2021 The CW YouTube Premium spanish language hist Toys cooking IFC Films films quibi anime Marvel Television Paramount Plus spider-man festivals Universal book adaptation joker political drama El Rey hispanic composers popular Netflix psychological thriller Columbia Pictures X-Men heist movie Premiere Dates docuseries The Arrangement CBS All Access nbcuniversal dark Women's History Month Masterpiece Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt RT21 natural history Best and Worst deadpool IFC worst movies DirecTV Comedy CNN police drama comedies Turner Classic Movies Syfy cinemax Lifetime Drama Trophy Talk rotten mutant Ellie Kemper toronto singing competition Disney+ Disney Plus razzies Mary Poppins Returns Comics on TV Trivia Rocketman Marvel target wonder woman scary Mary Tyler Moore romance Sundance E3 football Video Games Walt Disney Pictures 99% Baby Yoda marvel cinematic universe Pop TV cancelled TV shows dramedy facebook The Walt Disney Company genre docudrama binge crime thriller IMDb TV A24 reboot mob elevated horror Television Academy Character Guide USA telelvision WGN harry potter Tarantino Pacific Islander Legendary versus Acorn TV cancelled boxing nfl zero dark thirty Sneak Peek kids rt labs Superheroe book Apple TV Plus Musicals Awards Tour french cancelled television movie Hear Us Out comic book movies jamie lee curtis remakes thriller king arthur halloween tv Action Awards HBO Emmy Nominations Hallmark Kids & Family TV PaleyFest Cosplay Stephen King ratings south america President Dark Horse Comics Travel Channel Summer Black History Month RT History Pirates Academy Awards name the review 21st Century Fox young adult Certified Fresh travel sag awards VICE Horror 45 PlayStation ESPN concert 4/20 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards medical drama scene in color disaster 93rd Oscars indiana jones ABC casting based on movie Biopics Comic-Con@Home 2021 Film legend Mindy Kaling Mudbound sopranos BBC Captain marvel BAFTA toy story TIFF Television Critics Association Holidays Netflix Christmas movies Film Festival Polls and Games MCU Fox News AMC Plus blaxploitation canceled TV shows dceu unscripted critic resources Disney Channel First Reviews The Witch new york new zealand The Walking Dead MTV Disney Plus 73rd Emmy Awards posters cops video DC streaming service cars First Look olympics cats Endgame theme song ITV Animation dragons anthology zombie Spike prank archives New York Comic Con Grammys mission: impossible emmy awards 24 frames revenge 72 Emmy Awards Elton John diversity National Geographic dc Esquire black Family TLC aapi FOX canceled talk show 2017 rt labs critics edition all-time Photos OWN high school criterion TNT romantic comedy Year in Review Showtime comic books HBO Go pirates of the caribbean VH1 The Purge 2020 Amazon Studios Shondaland OneApp dexter Set visit mockumentary reviews Sundance TV 90s critics Turner dreamworks award winner HBO Max Amazon CW Seed kaiju Star Trek marvel comics scary movies Sony Pictures TV One Oscars Classic Film Cannes Winners best 2018 discovery A&E live action Disney streaming service Warner Bros. Sci-Fi dogs game show social media Watching Series directors true crime Vudu Lionsgate NYCC Starz hollywood Broadway witnail cancelled TV series worst Apple Bravo classics universal monsters crossover FX on Hulu Teen ViacomCBS festival sports Interview hidden camera godzilla Universal Pictures crime drama Mary poppins twilight werewolf Star Wars History 20th Century Fox video on demand Arrowverse trophy psycho strong female leads Writers Guild of America sequel Amazon Prime Video teaser Valentine's Day kong news Crackle doctor who Nat Geo asian-american Christmas Food Network Pet Sematary Shudder NBA king kong TV movies Spring TV superhero serial killer Marvel Studios SXSW E! Adult Swim Neflix 1990s Fall TV Fargo green book Rock