In a quaint seaside town on the Italian Riviera, a sea monster named Luca (Jacob Tremblay) is about to have the summer of his life. When he meets Alberto (Jack Dylan Grazer), a human boy, he is suddenly immersed into a world above the surface. Gelato, pasta and dreams of owning their own vespa, Luca and Alberto team up with local girl Giulia (Emma Berman) to compete in the annual race, but they must be careful not to spill their secret along the way.

Pixar’s latest film Luca is a lot more modest and gentle than some of its predecessors. They usually go above and beyond to up the anti every time, so having a simple story about friendship was different and refreshing to see. Luca and Alberto’s relationship quickly comes at the forefront of the movie and it is touching to watch it blossom. That is something that Pixar always manages to do. They really tug on your heartstrings and this was no exception.

With Jacob Tremblay as Luca and Jack Dylan Grazer as Alberto, the two did a wonderful job as the leads. They really managed to bring to life the friendship between both boys and I have to say that I could watch their interactions for ages and not get bored. Emma Berman is a great addition as Giulia. Maya Rudolph as Luca’s mom Daniela and Jim Gaffigan as Luca’s dad Lorenzo definitely added some humor as well. There was even a cameo from Sacha Baron Cohen!

Unfortunately there were some parts of the film that I did not enjoy. The ‘villain’ of the story, Ercole Visconti played by Saverio Raimondo was quite annoying. I also wasn’t really sure what purpose he served and couldn’t decide if he added anything to the plot. I also have to mention the fact that the overall storyline was not exactly original. I got serious Little Mermaid vibes the whole way through and wanted to break out singing Part Of Your World.

At the end of the day, Luca is one of the summer’s not to be missed films. It is still very enjoyable and great escapism, but it doesn’t stand out from the crowd either.

Rating: ♥♥♥.5

In The Heights

Washington Heights, New York City. A vibrant community of individuals from all walks of life who have known each other for forever. Usnavi (Anthony Ramos), a bodega owner, saves whatever he can in hopes of a better life back in the Dominican Republic.

The storyline of In The Heights may not give a lot away, but trust me when I say that you NEED to watch this movie. It is the standout of the summer and I guarantee that it will put a giant smile on your face. Based on the stage musical by mastermind Lin Manuel Miranda of Hamilton fame, the movie is a colorful array of catchy songs, breathtaking cinematography, a blast of culture and an amazing ensemble cast.

Anthony Ramos helms the troupe as protagonist Usnavi. His charisma, good looks and beautiful voice make him easy to root for throughout. Well knowns Jimmy Smits as Kevin Rosario, Olga Merediz as Abuela Claudia, Daphne Rubin-Vega as Daniela and Stephanie Beatriz as Carla are a joy to watch. Then there are the newcomers who perfectly round out the cast: Melissa Barrera as Vanessa, Leslie Grace as Nina Rosario, Corey Hawkins as Benny and my personal favorite Gregory Diaz IV as Sonny. He stole every single scene he was in!

And of course, who could forget Lin Manuel Miranda himself as Piraguero? His little cameos were everything.

I’ll be completely honest when I say that I was worried this wouldn’t live up to the hype, or to my expectations. I have become such a fan of Miranda in just one year and I was worried that this just wouldn’t compare to Hamilton. Luckily I soon realized that that wasn’t the case. The two are polar opposites in their plot, but there are similarities in the music styles that I appreciated.

In The Heights really was everything that I hoped it would be and more. It was lively, it was fun, it was emotional and it was heartwarming. It had everything you could want from a movie and yes, I did cry. If you haven’t seen it yet, you are seriously missing out!

Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Plan B

Sunny (Kuhoo Verma) and Lupe (Victoria Moroles) are best friends who couldn’t be more opposite from each other. Sunny is a straight-laced Indian girl who was brought up to do everything by the book, whereas Lupe is a complete slacker and does all that she can to defy her father and their Hispanic roots. After a regrettable first sexual encounter at a party, the two embark on the journey of a lifetime in order to track down the Plan B pill.

I actually hadn’t heard much about this movie. It didn’t seem like it was very well advertised which is unfortunate. Although I didn’t know much about it at first, I really did find it enjoyable. While the genre is a bit muddled between being a comedy, a drama and a coming of age story, I felt like it was still captivating to watch and I constantly wanted to know what was going to happen next!

What made it so relatable for me was the friendship between Sunny and Lupe. Their chemistry was perfectly balanced and it really was a joy to watch them go on this journey together. You always have this one friend who is your ride or die, who you would literally do anything for and it was lovely to see this portrayed on screen. Without the two of them, I do believe that the film wouldn’t have been the same. I also loved how two women of color were at the forefront here. That was very refreshing to see.

Unfortunately what didn’t work for me aside from the confused genres, was the fact that it wasn’t all neatly tied up with a bow in the end. I would have liked for some more answers to give me peace of mind. Not to mention the fact that it had a very similar storyline to last year’s Unpregnant. I couldn’t help but compare the two while I was watching.

Still, Plan B is a cute movie with strong female leads and that was enough for me. I recommend it if you are looking for something fun and light-hearted to watch!

Rating: ♥♥♥.5