Luca, a beautiful summer fantasy with beach aesthetics and an emotional core from Pixar, is one of the favorite animation movies of many. In it, a young sea monster named Luca changes into a human in order to explore the seaside Italian hamlet of Portorosso, where he meets another young monster named Alberto and embarks on an epic adventure. After spending some time on land, Luca is adamant about not returning.
Luca is a lovely narrative about two friends’ friendship, but its gorgeous vistas, quirky soundtrack, and ideal description of the Italian coastline make it a film that feels far too short at 95 minutes.
Looking for a solution to keep Luca’s soothing effects running indefinitely? Don’t worry, there are many more films out there that capture what makes Luca so unique. The films featured below have a similar homey quality (and some incredible-looking cuisine) to them, ranging from animated fairy tales to classic romantic comedies.
Kiki’s Delivery Service
Hayao Miyazaki’s coming-of-age movie Kiki’s Delivery Service, adapted from Eiko Kadono’s classic novel, brings a familiar tale of growing up to life through the eyes of a young witch. It, like Luca, depicts adolescence’s rough journey while featuring a lovely European backdrop, appealing antique decor, and delectable baked delicacies in practically every scene.
Apart from the obvious references to Studio Ghibli seen throughout Luca, what really sets Kiki’s apart from Pixar’s feature is their shared fascination with means of transportation. It’s no secret that Miyazaki enjoys flying, and this is clear in Kiki’s as well. Not only does the film’s protagonist ride a broomstick, but Kiki’s pal Tombo is fascinated with making a flying machine.
If the sea-monster features of Luca were your favorite parts, the ’80s nostalgia classic Splash should be exactly up your alley. Both videos depict children from many cultures who form lifetime relationships by stepping outside of their comfort zones. Splash may be goofy, but its comic scenes, costuming, song selections, and, of course, mermaid aesthetics have all stood the test of time.
It’s worth remembering that Splash came out before Disney’s other famous aquatic film, The Little Mermaid, and set the bar for how mermaids were represented in mainstream culture for a long time. Daryl Hannah’s mermaid caused a spike of infants called “Madison” and established a blueprint for how innocent, wide-eyed fantasy creatures interact with the human world, similar to how Luca treats the people of Portorosso.
The Young Girls of Rochefort
Jacques Demy’s underappreciated musical The Young Girls of Rochefort works as a perfect aesthetic complement with Luca, despite the lack of sea monsters or miraculous transformations. Both films offer beautiful European locales that make you want to schedule a ticket right now, as well as appealing soundtracks, well-dressed protagonists, and images full of fascinating tiny details.
Two parallels jump out in particular. Both films have vivid and brilliant color palettes, and the characters follow comparable plot lines. Delphine and Solange, Gemini twin sisters, have dreams they can’t realize while living in Rochefort in “Young Girls.” As a result, they want to flee to Paris in the hopes of realizing their aspirations. Much like Alberto and Luca, the sisters also resort to unconventional methods to achieve their goals and face doubts along the way, making their journey much more difficult.
Porco Rosso is definitely among Hayao Miyazaki’s most mature works, which is saying a lot considering the protagonist is a World War I flyer who looks like a pig. However, Luca owes a lot to Porco Rosso: The name of the town in “Luca,” Portorosso, is likely certainly a reference to Miyazaki’s masterpiece. Both films are set on the Italian Riviera, and “Luca” director Enrico Casarosa confessed that his film’s look was heavily influenced by Studio Ghibli. The relationships appear to be rather obvious.
What makes Porco Rosso and Luca a terrific cinematic match is how both films make use of the attractions of their respective settings. Porco Rosso captures the kitsch and grandeur of ’20s Italy, while “Luca” evokes the colorful delights of the region’s late ’50s and early ’60s era. Both movies feature flight, magical transformations, and much more; as companion pieces, you really can’t do better.
Nothing rivals the magic of Roman Holiday when it comes to Hollywood films set in Italy. Modern viewers may find the black and white photographs outmoded or dull in comparison to the vibrant vistas of Luca. However, if you can set your current prejudices aside, the foundation of this William Wyler film is wonderfully lovely.
But how does Luca relate to the narrative of a princess and a reporter who embark on a love adventure? Aside from the stunning Italian locales — and both films’ love of Vespas — the most notable common thread between the two is Princess Ann’s (played by Audrey Hepburn) and Luca’s wide-eyed joy.