Luca: Pixar has created some of the most enduring animated films since its creation back in the late 1980s and the release of the beloved Toy Story in 1995. What has transpired since has included Oscar winners across the board with films like Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Up, Monster’s Inc, Wall-E, and Coco. Their films are known to be enjoyed by a wide audience with visuals that appeal to kids while the stories can be touching for adults. For me, my favourite remains Finding Nemo, where not only do we have the Dad as the hero, we have the attitude of “the world is not safe” being deconstructed as it unfolds. Not all Pixar films are universally loved, and certainly not the short films either. For me the short film Bao which I saw in the theatre just creeped me out. Not just because I don’t like dumplings, but because of the smothering ways of the Mother character involved. Luca was released in 2021, and is currently on Disney +. It falls somewhere in the middle on the Pixar success scale in my mind. The story in many ways mirrors the Little Mermaid tale, with Ariel yearning to be human so that she can enjoy all the human things, not the least of all was her Prince Charming Eric who would whisk her away to a world of castle bliss. Ariel defies her father, King Triton and transforms herself into a human young lady with the help of the Sea Witch Ursulla. The story unfolds with terrific songs like “Kiss the Girl” and “Under the Sea”. In Luca, he is a young sea monster, their label and not mine, who works on the family farm tending to sea sheep (I am not joking). He has been forbidden to go to the surface as humans are regarded as murderers. Fairly from the fish point of view really. Luca however comes across some “human stuff” dropped from a fisherman’s boat above, and runs into what he thinks is a human in deep sea diving gear. Turns out, this is another fellow young sea monster who lives on the surface in his secluded castle. He has his collection of human stuff. The two boys, after chatting and becoming friends, marvel at a poster of a Vespa and wish one day to have one. The story unfolds as the boys head into town, not too far away. A small Italian fishing village, which among other things runs an annual triathalon-like race. Instead of swimming, running and biking, they have swimming, eating pasta, and biking. Go figure. Of course there will be the locals who have been taught to fear the sea monsters and the villain who finds a way to win the annual race while making fun of the young lady just trying to run her own race. There is no musical numbers performed by the characters. Unlike Coco, where the music is very much part of the engaging story, there isn’t any here to be played. So the story as expected resolves itself in a way that is fairly predictable. From a visual perspective, the sea creatures are borrowed well from the Finding Nemo world. The young girl reminds me of the heroine in Brave and the village theme with the Italians seemed like Coco. In other words, it was a borrowing of many other films, which were generally better. I did very much like the transition from sea monster to young boy that takes place. There were a couple of decent laughs. Overall, it was a decent effort, just not up to the lofty expectations that one can have with Pixar given their history. Incidentally the Disney animated film Encanto won the Oscar this year for Best Animated Film. Luca was nominated.
Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy: Season 2 of this series has begun. I sadly have missed the first two episodes with Venice and then Piedmont. I will be taping this from CNN using the PVR. Stanley’s first season was really good as you the viewer were introduced to some amazing local dishes, and encouraged to make them at home, but also experience some history within the area and see them make things like fresh mozzarella cheese. I am hopeful that there is a balance brought forth again to acquaint the viewers with the scenes and tastes within Italy. If you watch and don’t feel the desire to head to Italy and enjoy for yourself, then I don’t know what you may need to ever want to go anywhere.