Full plot details about Disney/Pixar’s upcoming animated feature Luca are relatively scarce. We know that the film, dropping June 18 exclusively on Disney+, centers around the growing friendship between two sea monsters, Luca (Jacob Tremblay) and Alberto (Jack Dylan Grazer). This coming of age story also boasts gorgeous vistas of the lush Italian Riveria. I mean, it’s Pixar. Of course it’s gorgeous.
But in the roughly half-hour of the Enrico Casarosa-directed film recently screened for press, the potential at a breakout star lurks beneath those stunningly blue Mediterranean waters.
Maybe not beneath. Adjacent to them.
Although, honestly, it’s difficult to call the Vespa a breakout star considering its storied history in international culture. But you do watch the film and get the sense that the Vespa is about to have another huge moment.
“There is something, first of all, of an old Vespa. It’s just so beautiful. I just always loved them—the designs were just stunning. There was something so beautiful about what they made here,” Casarosa explained. “There was something that felt kid-like that I liked and a sense of freedom that felt right. It’s perfectly made for two people, so it represented their friendship as well.”
The Vespa, the name meaning “wasp” in Italian, first appeared in 1946 as a motor scooter made by Piaggio & Co. in Pontedera, Italy. Its design evolved into an iconic component of the Italian cultural landscape. The Vespa combines a steel unibody with sleek lines and a flat floorboard, naturally attracting the attention of Pixar animators who leveraged its many appearances in 1950s Italian cinema as a source of inspiration for Luca.
In the sequences screened for press, Luca and Alberto become obsessed with the Vespa, which they naturally cannot afford being sea creatures. So, they use found objects to assemble something vaguely resembling a Vespa. One particularly hilarious moment sees Luca and Alberto taking their “Vespa” out for a spin on a steep hill overlooking the sea.
The moment showcases the kinds of things kids do in the summer with time and ingenuity on their hands. That’s decades before the advent of cell phones, of course. The Vespa essentially becomes a symbol of freedom and adventure in the film. That’s something in which audiences across the world can relate.
“The other side that I love in our movie is that they’re trying to make their own. We called them ‘janky Vespas’ when we made them, which is kind of my favorite thing about it,” Casarosa recalls. “And even the one that they love, it’s a little bit dodgy and beat up. But I love the fact that they still love it even though it’s all rusty.”
So, that begs the question, did the Pixar crew behind Luca get their own Vespas as wrap presents for the film?
“I was more of a motorcycle guy. So, I would love a Vespa right now, we should talk to Piaggio, maybe we can figure something out,” laughed Casarosa.
Disney/Pixar’s Luca drops on June 18, only on Disney+.