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

jurassic park PaleyFest E3 Disney Channel japan robots mcc slasher Video Games breaking bad DC streaming service crime drama nfl New York Comic Con Crackle movie HBO posters Apple TV+ adventure scary movies telelvision Starz ABC Walt Disney Pictures Syfy The Witch Stephen King Tubi Reality james bond Cosplay USA finale crime summer TV preview Star Wars Celebration Sundance TV 20th Century Fox theme song australia Rocky NBA Amazon Studios Apple 1990s name the review south america Lifetime OWN Film Festival El Rey Countdown Best Picture First Look worst movies docudrama parents Shudder Trivia DC Universe canceled TV shows christmas movies binge satire Box Office comic books international YouTube Premium boxing 2019 critic resources political drama vampires dragons festival mutant space rt labs critics edition gangster Awards Pop TV summer TV 2017 serial killer Ghostbusters hidden camera Indigenous Biopics scene in color series crime thriller BBC One 2020 ViacomCBS Superheroe heist movie sopranos Tags: Comedy Funimation Watching Series olympics DC Comics historical drama ratings NYCC 94th Oscars 2018 San Diego Comic-Con Tarantino VH1 LGBTQ talk show spain CNN Turner Classic Movies young adult thriller cops Extras kaiju Travel Channel new york comic book movies unscripted festivals Best Director marvel cinematic universe screenings Comic Book new star wars movies target Marathons spanish 4/20 Endgame Oscars 2021 Western Spring TV debate superhero 93rd Oscars Musicals animated critics romantic comedy superman spider-verse IFC MGM trailers Summer asian-american target scene in color all-time hispanic heritage month vs. high school Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt cinemax PlayStation TV movies toy story Winter TV The CW Instagram Live Food Network golden globes See It Skip It remakes Alien diversity anime politics saw SundanceTV Comics on TV Women's History Month Oscar GLAAD Best and Worst teaser hist MCU YouTube Red Disney+ Disney Plus Warner Bros. First Reviews Paramount 45 cats 90s streaming movies casting Black Mirror Quiz Drama Rocketman Martial Arts Captain marvel women mission: impossible TCA psycho TCA Awards AMC Plus award winner VICE Spike stop motion werewolf mockumentary Hulu lord of the rings cults PBS interviews action-comedy BAFTA cooking YouTube sequels comic book movie TLC Paramount Network Music GIFs rotten movies we love docuseries Mary Poppins Returns franchise Hallmark justice league TCA 2017 cancelled television Awards Tour Comic-Con@Home 2021 live event child's play deadpool Acorn TV blaxploitation renewed TV shows dexter TV renewals godzilla Rock Marvel archives video on demand TCM 2016 Vudu 71st Emmy Awards Reality Competition biography video RT History Star Wars Pixar natural history television know your critic scorecard Kids & Family Super Bowl Baby Yoda South by Southwest Film Festival ITV Film FX BET rom-coms facebook Universal Pictures adaptation DirecTV SXSW 2022 Photos spider-man halloween tv FX on Hulu Disney Plus Netflix Christmas movies GoT indiana jones Certified Fresh anthology Trailer witnail USA Network nature TV Land Universal basketball The Arrangement black comedy doctor who period drama IMDb TV MSNBC Academy Awards stand-up comedy Writers Guild of America Pride Month SDCC trophy Emmys Marvel Studios 73rd Emmy Awards Holidays screen actors guild Musical legend Turner National Geographic Fox Searchlight true crime game of thrones HBO Go LGBT Action transformers The Purge Mystery Broadway WarnerMedia Prime Video singing competition Arrowverse APB Adult Swim ABC Family batman book laika Sundance Now royal family quibi Comedy Central Character Guide streamig Teen Premiere Dates Nominations Nat Geo free movies dreamworks strong female leads Mary poppins Freeform Trophy Talk 2015 fresh HFPA cars Pacific Islander blockbuster twilight Native Valentine's Day live action President FOX Ovation broadcast dceu scene in color film series Infographic Country independent BBC Lionsgate elevated horror rt archives Discovery Channel Hollywood Foreign Press Association Columbia Pictures Crunchyroll Esquire medical drama slashers Mary Tyler Moore HBO Max Elton John The Academy Schedule RT21 Interview TNT ghosts nbcuniversal miniseries Grammys American Society of Cinematographers Fox News book adaptation adenture TruTV science fiction ID Brie Larson movies Fargo Calendar dark CW Seed 79th Golden Globes Awards what to watch Creative Arts Emmys TCA Winter 2020 football romance Binge Guide Spectrum Originals Toys game show directors classics aapi Amazon Prime Video sitcom Sony Pictures WGN sag awards comic A&E Pet Sematary Epix Tumblr The Walking Dead kids concert sequel Best Actor zombies documentaries OneApp crossover Comedy History technology best series Horror TV Sci-Fi Focus Features harry potter ESPN Exclusive Video CBS news X-Men NBC rt labs venice Winners mob TV One FXX DGA social media Paramount Pictures reviews Paramount Plus 21st Century Fox films worst marvel comics Lucasfilm BBC America spy thriller hollywood Image Comics children's TV tv talk italian comics chucky 007 kong Fall TV obi wan Thanksgiving zero dark thirty joker genre rotten Polls and Games Netflix Family E! Apple TV Plus Cannes die hard CBS All Access Anna Paquin summer preview cancelled TV shows Lifetime Christmas movies Sneak Peek feel good Peacock richard e. Grant Holiday foreign Tokyo Olympics Sundance a nightmare on elm street Disney streaming japanese IFC Films monster movies criterion king kong The Walt Disney Company Pop Nickelodeon dogs CMT cartoon Wes Anderson spanish language Best Actress Podcast travel green book Fantasy Television Critics Association Britbox Black History Month 72 Emmy Awards universal monsters Dark Horse Comics emmy awards art house Emmy Nominations wonder woman based on movie new zealand Tomatazos suspense king arthur Mudbound cancelled TV series ABC Signature Geeked Week halloween spinoff revenge disaster pirates of the caribbean TIFF war YA sports police drama Animation Logo Marvel Television Ellie Kemper Hear Us Out biopic latino aliens Christmas popular Superheroes Sony indie dramedy boxoffice canceled zombie jamie lee curtis razzies reboot documentary Amazon blockbusters BET Awards Chernobyl dc Star Trek 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards black Amazon Prime Neflix Hallmark Christmas movies A24 fast and furious Showtime Masterpiece Classic Film Heroines comedies prank Shondaland obituary Opinion Year in Review Television Academy VOD TBS golden globe awards Red Carpet toronto Rom-Com Disney streaming service Song of Ice and Fire scary french Avengers versus Bravo Legendary psychological thriller Chilling Adventures of Sabrina stoner discovery Election 24 frames comiccon 99% cancelled SXSW Mindy Kaling AMC Pirates composers MTV supernatural Cartoon Network leaderboard scene in color hispanic Set visit