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Luca

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

This Pixar movie about two boys who dream of riding a Vespa together, is only available on Disney Plus (a curious move, given that Pixar Animation Studios is one of the biggest money makers for Disney).

“Luca” is the story of a young boy sea monster named Luca (voiced by Jacob Tremblay) who has become infatuated with seeing what lies above the surface and on the coastal Italian town of Portorosa. He is told by his parents that good kids (sea monsters) don’t venture to the surface. But when another boy sea monster his own age, Alberto (voiced by Jack Dylan Grazer) sparks his curiosity by showing him that he can venture onto land and change into human form once on the surface, Luca soon discovers that this place may be where he’s meant to be.  

This is a whimsical Pixar Italian folktale for sure, with all that entails. High quality animation, entertaining story with lots of levity, but also themes of fear, loss and acceptance told in a way that a child can digest. That said, it’s not hard to see “Luca” for what it is, with a particularly tender relationship between these two boys at its forefront and telling a story where these boys must hide their identity for fear of being hurt; where on multiple occasions they are referred to as “kids who are different”. Hell, the entire first act is Luca’s parents attempting to shelter him from a world they feel wouldn’t accept him because of differences nobody (no human) can actually see. And to top it off, the movie was released during Pride month. While it’s not implicitly stated, “Luca” is very much a gay allegory.

And I want to root for a movie which sees Disney and Pixar’s first gay leads, when it’s just so obvious. And I will still do so. But to have the director Enrico Casorosa come out publicly and dismiss any homosexual themes, as Disney blames the fact that “Luca” didn’t get a theatrical release due to COVID, when “Cruella” a Disney release from a few weeks ago, is playing in theaters worldwide, is upsetting to say the least. But I’m also not shocked. This is Disney we are talking about. A corporation that will give the world a gay character, but in order to appease shareholders and conservatives, they’ll also downplay the significance of the character publicly. That said, is this still a beautiful movie that is one of the most important films Disney has ever produced? Most definitely. Two things can be true at the same time.

Final Thought: While the plot of “Luca” could be seen as more simplistic than others in the Pixar canon, it’s more than a little exciting to finally see a film like this. An animated film which carries the same Pixar award worthy standards, and also celebrates an LGBTQ+ story; even if the corporate machine behind it attempts to gaslight us all, denying this watershed moment.      

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Good Boys

good boys

Markus Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

The plot surrounds three boys, newly dubbed sixth graders, getting into adult situations (drinking beer, kissing, drug stuff, raunchy sex stuff; it’s more skits than story) and saying bad words. That’s it.

There’s not much to write about regarding this new Seth Rogen produced comedy. Not because it’s unfunny. Quite the contrary. It probably contains the most “laugh out loud” jokes per two minute interval than any other movie of 2019. The reason there isn’t much to say about “Good Boys” is that there really isn’t much story or anything worth mentioning besides the jokes. Actually, strike that. The three boys, played by Jacob Tremblay (Room, Wonder) Keith L. Williams and Brady Noon are very charismatic (although cookie cutter characters) making some of the jokes that really shouldn’t have landed (and undoubtedly didn’t work on paper) land with authority. But yeah, everything else about this movie is a mixed bag of poor editing and clumsy direction from Gene Stupnitsky.

Final Thought: Am I trying to say that without the high quality of comedy throughout, this movie would’ve been unwatchable? Pretty much. Good thing there is a ton of funny stuff here. “Good Boys” is an R-Rated joke machine where 80% of the jokes work. It’s a comedy that is guaranteed to make its target audience laugh. So, I guess it’s a successful comedy? Anyway, it’s no “Superbad”.

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