November 22nd, 2017
STARRING: ANTHONY GONZALEZ; GAEL GARCIA BERNAL; BENJAMIN BRATT; ALRENEE VICTOR
DIRECTED BY: LEE UNKRICH; ADRIAN MOLINA
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 3 ½ STARS (Out of 4)
How does Pixar do it? Every time I see another animated feature from the studio that made classics, such as Wall-E, UP!, and Inside Out, I feel like they are finding a new path and fantastic ways to squeeze my heart. The newest original feature, Coco is a sneaky great installment, about a young boy in Mexico City named Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez). He aspires to be a musician, but can’t seem to escape the demands of his large, tight-knit family, who celebrate “The Day of the Dead”, and despise all things music. Judging by advertisements and the fact that 2017 has been a brutal year for animated features, one would pass Coco off as an attempt to pick up some easy end of the year awards, but it’s much greater than that. Coco is a beautiful masterpiece.
It may sound like a cliché, but the narrative of Coco is a journey. We begin with Miguel telling the story of his great grandmother Mama Imelda (Alanna Ubach), who was left by his great grandfather to pursue a career in music. Ever since the entire family has been cursed, doomed to a life of being shoemakers. Although that’s not a terrible career, young Miguel has his own dream of being a musician, with hopes to follow the path of his hero, star musician Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt). The many surrounding family members, including Mama Coco (Ana Ofelia Murguia) and the stern Abuelita (Renee Victor) take it upon themselves to ensure no music is played in the house. A defiant Miguel runs away to “seize his moment”, till some magic takes place, sending him to the Land of the Dead and on an adventure through his family’s past.
Similar to the visual world of Inside Out, Coco is a wonder to look at. Directors Lee Unkrich (Toy Story 3) & Adrian Molina have created a world with vibrant colors of purple, orange, and green that rest beautifully on the screen. It’s not an explosion in our face, but a delightful experience for our eyes. Miguel enters into a world full of skeletons, with each member of his family past there to welcome him. Along the way he meets a messy haired Hector (Gael Garcia Bernal) who wants to help him meet Ernesto de la Cruz for his blessing and in return Miguel will help him cross to the other side to see his daughter once again.
Along with the astonishing visuals is a delightful arrangement of songs, including the Oscar lock “Remember Me”, which when you hear it is a guarantee to draw some tears from your ducts. The adventure continues for Miguel which turns into his own personal journey to discover what it means to have a family that loves him. Although some audiences may see similarities to the Day of the Dead themes from 2014’s Guillermo del Toro produced, The Book of Life, that does not mean Coco does not have it’s own unique path. In fact, the themes of Mexican traditions are handled with love and care, making Coco a beautiful film for children to learn about other cultures.
At this point Pixar seems to be having fun messing with our emotions. Coco is another brilliant installment into an already near flawless collection of films (okay, all but those Cars movies). What makes it even better is Pixar’s ability to branch out into different ways to reach their audiences. This is the type of story for everyone to enjoy, an absolute delight. Take the whole family to go see Coco, it’s to die for.
3 ½ STARS
Written by: Leo Brady