The idea of an ideal summer spent with friends on a beach conjures up images of closeness and discovery, but the cast of Disney’s latest animated blockbuster Luca had the exact opposite experience. Due to the epidemic, the recordings were done separately and at home last year, rather than coming together in the studios to capture their voice performance and interact as a group.
According to producer Andrea Warren, this resulted in a new set of production and personal obstacles.
“Well, living in my mother’s closet for a year,” says kid actor Jack Dylan Grazer (Shazam! ), who voices Alberto Scorfano. As an actor, it was definitely a stretch and a challenge for me. And it was hot in there as a human being. And I’m sure my neighbours were horrified by the quantity of screaming that was going on.”
And some of those cries were undoubtedly internal, as the epidemic forced Disney to postpone the theatrical release of Luca in favour of a streaming launch on its Disney+ programme. Luca, thankfully, has maintained Pixar’s track record, with excellent reviews upon its release. Luca is a charming coming-of-age film that focuses on the exploration of one’s own identity and more importantly, loving and supportive friendships.
Alberto, Luca’s (Jacob Tremblay) best friend, is the kind of friend that parents may label a bad influence, but as far as charming films about youthful friendships and experiences go, the kind of friend that one might need as they grow older.
So, what is the mystery that binds the two of them? How about the fact that both Luca and Alberto are water monsters, but although Luca is a well-behaved sea monster with an interest in what goes on above the surface, Alberto has been living among humans and is anxious to share his expertise with one of his own kind.
But, according to Italian storyboard artist turned director Enrico Casarosa, the film is about friendship, not magic or monsters.
For starters, Luca was inspired by his friendship with a childhood buddy, and the 49-year-old wanted to write a film with a lot of heart, so he decided that drawing on personal memories would be the best way to do so.
“I was born in Genova, which is a port town on the Riviera, and I was a quiet kid who was a little bit sheltered by my family until I met my closest friend at the age of 11 and my world opened up! He was a bit of a nuisance, and he didn’t have much supervision, so in those special summers, when you’re growing up and discovering yourself, he was a bit of a troublemaker. I was kind of following him and getting dragged into troubles. It really made me really think about how much we find ourselves with our friendships, how much friendships help us find who we want to be,” said Casarosa.
And for 14-year-old Tremblay, it was this yearning for discovery and adventure that drew him to the project, particularly during the epidemic and the worldwide call for people to stay at home.
Rudolph adds to how Luca evoked nostalgia for her by recalling one of her favourite summer moments, “I have nothing but good memories.” I spent a lot of time at summer camp as a kid, and those are some of my favourite memories. Warm nights are perhaps my favourite part, but I really enjoy making new acquaintances. That’s the comforting familiarity of this film, which makes you feel instantly at ease.”
Childhood memories, summer, and too-good-to-be-true friendships, Luca is on its way to being another cherished film, like Soul, Inside Out, and Up, that will warm fans of all ages. Luca is just a movie that the cast is immensely proud of, given the amount of love and emotion that has gone into it.
“I don’t know how Pixar does it because their batting average is like 1000, so I don’t know if it’s illegal for Pixar to make bad movies. “I have a feeling this is going to be fantastic,” Gaffigan said.