Connect with us

Disney

Luca – Review | Pixar’s under-the-radar queer film

Published

on

Disney Studios have been promising for years to be more LGBTQ+ inclusive with their content. But their so called, ahem, “attempts” at showing queer representation in their live action films and TV shows have been mostly shallow tokenism at best. Even the recent Cruella we were promised that John McCrea’s fashion-enthusiast character Artie was to be Disney’s legitimately first out-and-proud gay character. And yet, the final product did nothing to confirm this. This was Disney once again pandering to the queer audience without actually taking any risk.

However one faction of Disney Studios; Pixar does seem to making a more visible effort to tell LGBTQ+ stories. With the heart-warming short Out and even having Lena Waithe voice a lesbian cyclops in one of the more recent features Onward as recent examples. Granted these are just minor baby steps but it’s notable progress nonetheless. But Luca, Pixar’s 24th feature film – a breezy coming-of-age story of friendship, might just be the closest thing we’ve had to a gay Pixar feature film.


No it’s not in any way a confirmed, out-and-proud, self-identifying gay film. There’s no gay characters (so to speak) but it’s deceptively LGBTQ+ in tone and message. In short, there’s no pandering here. It’s not pretending to be inclusively gay, rather its queer coded enough to strike a chord with anybody LGBTQ+ and have it resonate with them on a subtextual level.

With a plot not too dissimilar to The Little Mermaid (which incidnetly is getting a Disney live action remake this year), Luca tells the story of a curious young sea creature named Luca (voiced by Jacob Tremblay), who after encountering some human gadgets and gizmos aplenty, longs to venture up to the surface to see what lies above the water. Much to the dismay of his human-fearing parents (Maya Rudolph and Jim Gaffigan), Luca follows fellow sea-dweller and pal Alberto (Jack Dylan Grazer) up to the shore to discover that his fishy-body adapts to the surface by transforming into human form when out of water. From then on its frolicking childhood adventure in the gorgeous coastal town of Portorosso, partaking in a triathlon with a local girl named Giulia (Emma Berman) in order to make their dreams of owning their own Vespa a thing of reality.

It’s a sickeningly cute story about the kids who feel like outsiders, weirdos or underdogs finding their tribe and coming into their own. But that’s not the only way to interpret Luca. Director Enrico Casarosa has publicly stated that there was no intention of any gay subtext but there’s no denying to the queer-eyed observer that it’s there.

I’m sure I can anticipate some backlash for even suggesting there was anything remotely hinting at homosexuality in this sweet innocent Pixar film. Well regardless, people see what we wanna see. And for the queer community seeing a thinly veiled story about 2 boys “coming out” of the hostile environment of the Ocean to live their true authentic lives on land means a great deal to us. As a child of the 90’s I didn’t have any animated films like this but it would’ve certainly meant a lot for me to have film like this going through adolescence. The little queer boy that I was would’ve deeply resonated with Luca.

But regardless of the subtext Luca is still a very easy-to-love film. It’s hard not to enjoy a story about 3 scrappy kids who are self-proclaimed “under-dogs” enjoying the frivolities of youth. The animation is gorgeous. The setting of Portorosso looks warm and inviting. The little details are impeccable; from the individual scales on the sea creatures, to each individual pebble on the shore to the freckles on the kids faces – it’s all exquisitely detailed.

Luca certainly has the goods but what lets it down comparatively to its Pixar brothers and sisters is how conventional and safe the plot is. It’s a grass-is-greener coming-of-age story – it’s hardly anything new.

Ironically Casarosa publicly stating that Luca wasn’t in any way a queer film completely negates his own films bravest and most talk-worthy attribute. If he’d simply allowed some wiggle room for interpretation then would Luca perhaps be more critically revered and feature higher in the rankings? He would undoubtedly be idolised for being the director to make Pixar’s first gay feature. But simultaneously, he would also be hated by those too narrow-minded to see the beauty in this lovely story.

Who know’s maybe Casarosa himself might change his tune when young queer kids tell him how his charming Pixar film helped them come to terms with who they are. But for now the masses will read Luca as an enjoyable albeit by-the-numbers family film about friendship, dreams, education and discovery. And there’s nothing wrong with that – it’s just not breaking any new ground is all.

The parental subplot which sees Luca’s parents Daniela and Lorenzo venture up to the surface to bring their son back home also lacks emotional payoff. We’ve already seen previous Pixar films tackle the subject of parents learning to let go of their kids done with way more skill and panache in Finding Nemo. Here there is no personal journey of self-discovery for Daniela or Lorenzo. They don’t learn anything about themselves like Marlon the Clownfish did. Instead all they do when they’re on land is throw water at kids to try and spot Luca. So when they arrive at their final destination of acceptance and understanding for Luca at the end of the film – it doesn’t feel earned. It feels like an after thought.

And as far as the tone of this film goes. Luca is unquestionably more of a kids film than one custom-made for the parents to click with. Remember the criticisms that Soul was too existential for kids to enjoy? Well Luca is the exact opposite of Soul – it’s merely a carefree and conventional kids film. Adults will certainly still be able to enjoy it but it’s not going to offer anything profoundly insightful like Toy Story 4, Inside Out or Coco did. Unless you’re LGBTQ+ but I digress.

But regardless of the simplicity of Luca’s narrative it is still a thoroughly enjoyable movie. It ticks many of the Pixar boxes; humour, heart and a lovely message – albeit a familiar one. There’s nothing outright bad about Luca, it’s just the standard for Pixar is set so high that in comparison it does feel a bit safe and therefore a little average.

★★★☆☆

Luca is available worldwide to stream on Disney + now.

FILM RATING
Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Animation

Strange World | Teaser Trailer | Walt Disney Animation Studios

The legendary Clades are a family of explorers whose differences threatened to topple their latest and most crucial mission.

Published

on

By

Genre:

Animation, Action, Adventure

Release Date:

November 23, 2022

Director:

Don Hall

 Cast:

Jake Gyllenhaal, Alan Tudyk

Plot Summary:

The legendary Clades are a family of explorers whose differences threatened to topple their latest and most crucial mission.

FILM RATING
Continue Reading

Disney

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness | Time

Dr Stephen Strange casts a forbidden spell that opens a portal to the multiverse. However, a threat emerges that may be too big for his team to handle.

Published

on

By

Genre:

Action, Adventure, Fantasy

Release Date:

May 6, 2022

Director:

Sam Raimi

Cast:

Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen, Rachel McAdams

Plot Summary:

Dr Stephen Strange casts a forbidden spell that opens a portal to the multiverse. However, a threat emerges that may be too big for his team to handle.

FILM RATING
Continue Reading

Animation

Lightyear | Official Trailer 2 | Pixar

The story of Buzz Lightyear and his adventures to infinity and beyond.

Published

on

By

Genre:

Animation, Adventure, Comedy

Release Date:

June 17, 2022

Director:

Angus McLane

Cast:

Chris Evans (Voice)

Plot Summary:

The story of Buzz Lightyear and his adventures to infinity and beyond.

FILM RATING
Continue Reading
Advertisement

Popular Now

Advertisement
Advertisement

TRENDING NOW

Trending

0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x