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



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.

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The Little Mermaid | Official Trailer

A young mermaid makes a deal with a sea witch, to trade her beautiful voice for human legs so she can discover the world above water and impress a prince.





Adventure, Family, Fantasy

Release Date:

May 26, 2023


Rob Marshall


Halle Bailey, Jonah Hauer-King, Melissa McCarthy

Plot Summary:

A young mermaid makes a deal with a sea witch, to trade her beautiful voice for human legs so she can discover the world above water and impress a prince.

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‘Haunted Mansion’ Teaser Trailer Materializes

Home is where the Haunt is. Watch the brand-new teaser trailer for Haunted Mansion, appearing only in Theatres July 28



Look alive, foolish mortals! Walt Disney Studios is dying to share the teaser trailer for the comically creepy adventure Haunted Mansion, appearing in theatres on July 28, 2023.

Watch Disney’s Haunted Mansion teaser trailer below, which is loaded with familiar faces – both spirits from the dark ride attraction and fan-favourite Hollywood superstars! There were plenty of spooktacular nods to the iconic and beloved attraction. If you’ve ridden on “Haunted Mansion” at the Disney Parks then you’ll know what to expect as throughout we see mysteriously stretching portraits, ghosts haunting, and some recognisable characters such as the Hatbox ghost, Constance Hatchaway, and Madam Leota played by Jamie Lee Curtis.

The presence of the supernatural world would probably take you by surprise as we see an unsuspecting family move into the Mansion believing it to be a lovely new home, however, Rosario Dawson’s character Gabbie soon learns that a vanilla-scented candle still won’t chase the creepiness away!

Directed by award-winning filmmaker Justin Simien, “Haunted Mansion” features an all-star ensemble cast that includes LaKeith Stanfield, Tiffany Haddish, Owen Wilson, Danny DeVito, Rosario Dawson, Chase W. Dillon, and Dan Levy, with Jamie Lee Curtis and Jared Leto as The Hatbox Ghost.

Director Simien said in a statement shared with Coastal House Media, “As a lifelong fan of the Haunted Mansion attraction, I’m beyond excited to share the teaser trailer for our new film adaptation featuring an incredible cast,” Simien says. “Our team has worked tirelessly to create a scary, funny and cinematic otherworldly adventure for both new and die-hard fans to enjoy! I can’t wait for audiences to experience this big screen version of the iconic Disney attraction.”

Inspired by the classic theme park attraction, a doctor (Dawson) and her 9-year-old son (Chase Dillon), looking to start a new life, move into a strangely affordable mansion in New Orleans, only to discover that the place is much more than they bargained for. Desperate for help, they contact a priest (Wilson), who, in turn, enlists the aid of a widowed scientist-turned-failed-paranormal expert (Stanfield), a French Quarter psychic (Haddish) and a crotchety historian (DeVito).  this motley crew of so-called spiritual experts are to help rid the family’s home of supernatural squatters.

The film’s producers are Dan Lin and Jonathan Eirich, with Nick Reynolds and Tom Peitzman serving as executive producers.

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Why ‘Return to Oz’ is one of my favorite films now



I have said it once and I’ll say it again. Nothing could match the sheer brilliance of the 1939 Judy Garland-led film The Wizard of Oz, but there is another film that was flown under the radar that was forgotten by many Oz fans after its release. That film was Return to Oz.

The movie is the unofficial sequel to the 1939 classic film. It follows a young Dorothy Gale six months after she came back from the Land of Oz. She is sent a key by the scarecrow via a shooting star and gets back to the magical land of Oz using a raft on a floating river. She is accompanied by a talking chicken, a metalhead named Tik-Tok, a Gump and Jack Pumpkinhead. 

The gang battles the evil Princess Mombi and her boss the Nome King. They must find the Scarecrow and unfreeze all of the inhabitants of the Emerald City. 

The film bombed at the box-office and only received mixed reviews, but, over the years, it has gained popularity, thanks to the internet and other Oz fans. 

As a child, I have always been fascinated with the idea of a person or a group of people traveling to a distant and fantastical land of wonder and amazement. That’s why I love movies like Alice In Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz and The Chronicles of Narnia but this Walter Murch film from 1985 seems to capture my attention whenever I’m on Disney+ trying to kill some time. 

The story is so simple that it takes the journey of the hero and breathes new life into the marvelous land of Oz and the films that inspired it. It has a certain kinship to the nostalgic movies that I previously watched as a child in the 2000s. 

Another reason that I love this film so much is because of the magnificent score by David Shire. His music is so beautifully crafted that it makes one weak in the knees and the heart. Each note is a transformative thrill into Murch’s vision of what L. Frank Baum’s Oz was. The film uses every single strand of filmmaking techniques that the 1939 film originally hosted. 

Since its release, it has been acclaimed as a cult classic and its nostalgic charm is what makes it so likable and watchworthy. 

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