What I wouldn’t give to have been a fly on the wall during what was certainly the most bizarre elevator pitch in the history of elevator pitches for Luca, the latest churn from Pixar’s ever-productive mill of animated greats. It probably didn’t, but I like to imagine it went something like this:

Director Enrico Casarosa: Yeah, so, it’s a fish out of water story – literally – about a rebellious young sea serpent named Luca from an underwater world of sea serpent inhabitants who dreams of becoming human by running off to the surface world. And then imagine Luca’s excitement when he discovers that emerging onto land causes him to magically transform into human form.

"Luca may not quite be top-tier Pixar, but it is certainly top-tier meaningful."

Pixar executive: A sea serpent?

Casarosa: Yeah, but not really a sea serpent, more like a merman, er, merboy. He lives with his parents in the ocean and helps out by herding fish.

Pixar Executive: Fish herder?

Casarosa: Yeah, that’s his job in the underwater world. Then he joins a couple of friends, one of whom is another merboy, the other just a normal human - she’s the young daughter of a one-armed local fisherman, and… and, they enter a pasta-eating triathlon competition with hopes of winning the prize money so they can buy a Vespa.

Pixar Executive: A pasta-eating triathlon?

Casarosa: Yeah, pasta. You know, like ravioli, linguine, and fettuccini. Well, they also ride bicycles, and swim, so it’s not all pasta eating.

Pixar Executive: All this to win a Vespa?

Casarosa: Yeah, a Vespa. It’s like a motor scooter. So they can ride around and see the world. There are bullies too. And overly protective parents, and girls, and narrow-minded humans who have trouble seeing someone for who they really are.

Casarosa: Oh, and I forgot to mention. Everyone is Italian. And all the men have gigantic bushy mustaches.

Pixar Executive: OK! Let’s do this.

Though the setup for Luca sounds like some kind of David Lynch-ian surrealistic dream, it really isn’t. It’s actually a sweet and charming little family-friendly fairy tale with a heartwarming message about the value of friendship and the healing power of remembering the people who shaped us throughout our lives. In addition, the film marks the feature film directorial debut of Enrico Casarosa (Oscar-nominated film short La Luna) who admirably steps into the role by playing into the strengths of a Pixar film with top-level animation and engaging characters we love and care about.Luca

The character of Luca is voiced by Jacob Tremblay (Room, Wonder), while best friends Alberto and Giulia are voiced by Jack Dylan Grazer (It) and Emma Berman (TV’s Go! Go! Cory Carson) respectively. The three become best friends over an Italian summer and spend their time training for the pasta eating triathlon. Luca’s mother and father are voiced by Maya Rudolph and Jim Gaffigan and provide most of the comic relief as they warn Luca of the dangers of the surface world and assume human form to track him down, yet they have no idea which human boy is theirs.

The first things viewers will notice about the film are the stylistic renderings that, while picturesque and breathtaking in their own right, feel very un-Pixar like. The beautiful Italian seaside town of Portorosso is the film’s main setting and is rendered in a soft painterly style, while the characters are all Pixar. This blending of old and new is actually quite refreshing and a much-appreciated departure from the typical Pixar style. In addition, Luca’s simple story is a fairly significant move away from the existential pondering that was a predominant feature in the company’s last two films, Onward and Soul. Luca feels as if we are handing the company off to a new era of filmmakers.

Yes, Luca may share some familiar themes and may even remind us of the same subject matter as many other Disney films such as Pinnochio and The Little Mermaid. And it certainly isn’t quite as revolutionary as some Pixar films of the past, however it does feel very familiar. And that’s really the point of it all; it’s a nostalgic trip back to our childhood when our friends meant the world to us and gave us the opportunity to discover something about ourselves. Luca may not quite be top-tier Pixar, but it is certainly top-tier meaningful.

4/5 stars


4K UHD Details

Home Video Distributor: Disney
Available on Blu-ray
- August 3, 2021
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
: English SDH, French, Italian, Spanish
English: Dolby Atmos; English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1; English: Dolby Digital Plus 7.1; English: Dolby Digital 5.1; English: Dolby Digital 2.0; Italian: Dolby Digital Plus 7.1; French: Dolby Digital Plus 7.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital Plus 7.1
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set; DVD copy; Digital Code
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Disney brings its Italy-set fish out of water tale to 4K with a nice little 4K Ultra-HD + Blu-ray + Digital code package that features the film, plus a handful of bonus materials packaged in a double-hubbed eco case. Included are English, French, and Italian subtitle tracks.

The 4K disc includes the film only, while all bonus materials are on the enclosed blu-ray disc. Included are deleted scenes, a look at the artistry of the film, a cast and crew interview, and more.


Disney's 2160p Ultra High Definition widescreen presentation is a thing to behold. As mentioned above, the artistic stylings of the Italian setting don't feel like a Pixar film. Rather than striving for their signature crisp, sterile CGI renderings, the Pixar artists go for a more painterly presentation which is captured beautifully in the transfer.

Though quite impressive in their own right, the underwater scenes unquestionably take a back seat to the colors, textures, and depth captured in the Italian hillside setting of fictional Portorosso. Burnt Sienna, gold, and oranges dominate, while the bright blues of the ocean and sky contrast perfectly. Visually, you will be hard pressed to find a better film to show off your 4K TV. Pop the disc in and start the tour. Jaws will drop.


The Dolby Atmos track is an immersive one with water sounds hitting us from all directions – especially from the ceiling – in the underwater sequences. However the above surface auditory experience largely fails to impress. Dialogue is always clearly audible while sound effects are adequately active.



  • None

Special Features:

Though not packed with bonus material, there's enough good stuff to please the film's fans. Aspiring artists and filmmakers will appreciate the the two features that look at the film's inspirational setting as well as piece on character design and execution.

Included on the blu-ray disc are three making-of featurettes, a handful of deleted scenes, and some trailers.

  • Our Italian Inspiration (14:21)
  • Secretly a Sea Monster (12:23)
  • Best Friends (7:15)
  • Deleted Scenes (30:30)
  • Trailers

4k rating divider

  Movie 4/5 stars
  Video  4/5 stars
  Audio 3/5 stars
  Extras 4/5 stars

Composite Blu-ray Grade

4/5 stars


Film Details


MPAA Rating: PG for rude humor, language, some thematic elements and brief violence.
101 mins
: Enrico Casarosa
Enrico Casarosa
Jacob Tremblay, Jack Dylan Grazer, Emma Berman
: Comedy | Animation

Memorable Movie Quote: "Silenzio Bruno"
Theatrical Distributor:
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
June 18, 2021 (internet)
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:

Synopsis: On the Italian Riviera, an unlikely but strong friendship grows between a human being and a sea monster disguised as a human.