As the latest film from Pixar Animation Studios, Coco is an incredible addition to their sensational repertoire. A heart-warming adventure filled with wonderful music and beautiful animation, it is the perfect escape from the heavier films that are stealing the spotlight this year and a beautiful lesson about the power of family.
The film centers on young Miguel, voiced by Anthony Gonzalez, a Mexican boy who is a descendant of a long line of cobblers. Due some family history concerning his great, great grandfather, music has been strictly forbidden for the members of his family. His great, great grandmother, Mama Imelda, voiced by Alanna Ubach created this hard rule as the founding matriarch of their business. She continues to rule from her grave as her descendants honor her traditions and dictates with love and respect. But twelve-year-old Miguel is determined to break free from a fate of making shoes. On the Day of the Dead a bit of magical mischief ensues, and Miguel finds himself in the land of the dead, fighting against time to get back to the land of the living.
This film hits all the Disney tropes perfectly, including a goofy sidekick pet, in this case a Xoloitzcuintli dog called Dante. Interestingly, “Xolos” are one of the rarest breeds in the world were considered sacred to many ancient Native Mexican cultures as spiritual guides. He’s a perfect choice for the story. Endemic of Pixar/Disney films is that the film is just as entertaining for adults as it is for children. It’s brilliant for all ages. Much like Up and Inside Out, Coco hits a level of emotional complexity that might be too sophisticated for most youngsters, but will reduce the adults in the audience to tears. There was nary a dry eye by the last twenty minutes of the movie during the press screening, and that’s a good thing. This is a movie that reminds one of the power and love of family. It’s a beacon of cinematic light for those who cherish their kin. This is a message that isn’t broadcasted often by large production companies. Broken families may be main stream and all too common, but love has an ability to mend old wounds. The togetherness of the generations and the joy of being loved and connected through blood is something to be celebrated. This concept gives Coco it’s profundity and the audience is solidly moved with each emotional beat. Adding to this is that characters are developed well with some surprising and touching arcs elegantly unveiled as the story moves from one act to the other. Not all characters are who they seem to be and we are treated to some high-level story-telling.
Gorgeous and vibrant esthetics fill the screen at every moment of the film and especially when Miguel stumbles into the underworld. Adding to the epic splendor of the movie is the soundtrack. One can’t help but sigh at the beauty of the music that bursts forth to accompany the visuals. This is another soundtrack to put up there with the likes of Moana, but instead with delightful classical guitar-based Mexican fare. And Anthony Gonzalez’s voice is utter magic, sonorous and pure. Music is interwoven into the plot, so one never has to patiently wait through a sappy song to continue the story. Quite the opposite, the musical numbers offer character and plot development, enhancing a rich engagement with the film.
An enchanting love letter to Mexican culture that celebrates family love and music, Coco is an absolute must-see in theaters. One shouldn’t be deprived of the grandeur of seeing this film on a large scale with a booming sound system. Make it a point to go and see Coco.
Thanks for reading.
The Diva Del Mar