It took me some time, but I finally got around to watching Pixar’s “Luca,” a Disney+ exclusive. Considering the state of the pandemic at this point, the decision to hold “Luca” out of theaters seems rather shortsighted on Disney’s part. Nevertheless, a new Pixar movie is always appreciated, regardless of how it is consumed.
I’m far from the first person to mention the glaring similarities between “Luca” and “The Little Mermaid,” but here I am weighing in. “Luca” is just fine and it’s certainly entertaining, but it’s value is about the same as you’d find in a live action Disney remake. It might not be as lifeless as “The Lion King” remake, but it’s probably a step down from something like 2016’s “The Jungle Book” or 2019’s “Aladdin.”
“Luca” is not a remake of “The Little Mermaid,” but the conceptual similarities to that story are hard to miss, what with a sea creature longing for the adventure and knowledge of the outside world. The derivative nature of the plot seems to signal a return to a tried and true formula for the Disney machine, and in that way makes it seem like “The Little Mermaid” with a glossier paint job.
All of this is pretty forgivable, other than that I feel Pixar is above this kind of copy-and-paste story. There are twists and turns later in the story that were interesting, but the underlying movements were borderline distracting. Pixar has such a high bar that consistently clearing it in 2021 is a fierce challenge, from my perspective. “Soul” cleared the hurdle, as did “Inside Out” and “Coco,” but “Luca” is not quite clearing the quality threshold that will make me want to watch it again. If I do, I’ll make sure it’s “The Little Mermaid” next time.
And finally, I fear “Luca” will be pushed way to the back of the line when it comes to “fish want” stories, as “The Little Mermaid” itself is getting a live action remake in the near future. With both the animated classic and the upcoming remake flooding the niche, I’m not sure where the audience for “Luca” will be.
Sam Zavada is a copy editor with The Standard-Speaker in Hazleton. He previously served as the news clerk at The Standard-Speaker, working with the obituaries and the community and lifestyle pages. Sam’s work in print dates back to his time at King’s College, where he spent two years as the editor in chief of the school’s newspaper, The Crown. Earlier in his time with The Crown, he worked as a staff writer and the entertainment manager. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.