Disney + is the exclusive home for the latest film in the Pixar oeuvre, a story about sea monsters and understanding, Luca.

Luca (Jacob Tremblay) is a young sea monster living in the sea off the coast of the Italian Riviera. He wrangles fish and lives with his mother Daniela (Maya Rudolph) and father Lorenzo (Jim Gaffigan). Daniela is strict with Luca and forbids him to ever go near the surface in order to protect him from the dangers of humans.

However, Luca meets a rebellious sea monster, Alberto (Jack Dylan Grazer), who lives on the surface alone and lives a more daredevil type lifestyle. The freeness and carefree nature of Alberto appeals to Luca and he begins spending more time with his friend out of the water. When out of the water, the sea monsters conveniently change to a human form until they get wet.

When Luca’s parents discover their son’s secret, they plan on sending him away to stay with his uncle in the deep for awhile. Luca runs away and he and Alberto decide they are going to go to the human world to find the magical Vespa, a scooter that they believe will take them across the world.

Once in the human village, they meet a girl named Giulia (Emma Burman) who is training for a giant race that she loses every year to the “evil empire” bully Ercole Visconti (Saverio Raimondo), who immediately begins to target Luca and Alberto as well.

This is another great movie from the minds of Pixar. The story is well done. The animation is always top notch. There is heart and charm and the voice acting is excellent. Although I enjoyed this a great deal, there just seemed to be something missing from the movie to make it that extra special event that Pixar movies usually are, and I am just unsure what that missing piece is.

The film has a good message about friendship and accepting people for who they are, looking past the surface to see the person that they are underneath. The friendship between Luca and Alberto is a positive relationship shown on screen between two boys and then the inclusion of Giulia causes some friction as they realize that they may have differing wants and needs.

The film did take a little while getting to the main story of the film, and may have been a bit of a rush to get to the conclusion, but neither of these are major points to derail the film. We spend a good deal of time with Luca and Alberto and that gives us an understanding of who these characters are supposed to be.

I would say that, as a villain, Ercole is weaker than we are used to in Pixar films. He is one-dimensional and we do not know why he is like he is. He feels more buffoonish than threatening so I have less concern over what he is doing than other villains I could think of.

Luca is a wonderful movie, a good story of freedom and life. As always, the animation is stellar. I just feel as if there is something that is missing from the movie, call it the Pixar magic, that prevents this from being in the same class as Coco or Inside Out. It would be a great family film for all ages.

3.75 stars

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