Directed by Lee Unkrich; Co-directed by Adrian Molina
Starring the voices of Anthony Gonzalez, Gael Garcia Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Renee Victor, Ana Ofelia Murguia, Alanna Ubach, and Jaime Camil
Coco is a film that feels like we’ve been waiting for for a long time. Pixar originally announced it at the start of the decade, at the same press conference where they announced Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur. Things were quiet for a while, but development finally began in earnest about three years ago. All we really knew was that it was about the Mexican festival of Dia de Muertos — the Day of the Dead. When trailers started dropping earlier this year, it looked visually sumptuous. But, would the story live up to the visuals?
Young Miguel craves to be a musician. He feels a certain kinship with Ernesto de la Cruz, one of the greatest singers in all of Mexico, as de la Cruz hails from his hometown. There’s one snag in Miguel’s ambitions, though. His great, great grandfather walked out on his great, great grandmother to pursue his musical ambitions, and because of that, his family has banned music to this very day. Undeterred, Miguel tries to enter his town’s Dia de Muertos music festival, but in order to do so, swipes a guitar from de la Cruz’s tomb. This places a curse on Miguel, turning him into a ghost-like being, where he gets to meet his deceased relatives in the Land of the Dead. Miguel can return if he gets his deceased relatives blessing…but they’ll only grant it if he abandons his plans to be a musician. Refusing to accept this, Miguel heads out into the Land of the Dead to find the one relative who will bless him and allow him to be a musician…his great, great grandfather. Will Miguel be reunited with his great, great grandfather and find his way home?
What I Liked
As always with Pixar, it’s visually spectacular. And in a film where music plays such a prominent role, the music is equally spellbinding. The characters are great, too, as we really feel with Miguel’s struggles. We also feel for Hector, a man who fears he’ll be forgotten and becomes Miguel’s guide through the Land of the Dead. And you’ve also gotta love Dante, Miguel’s dog who follows him to the Land of the Dead, as he lives up to the great Disney tradition of animal sidekicks.
What I Didn’t Like
I may have seen too many of these, but man did the plot seem formulaic. And I’ve said this in my reviews of other Disney and Pixar animated films to date, but can we please abandon the “shocking twist” of “obviously evil guy” being a red herring and “kindly old mentor” being the true villain?
While the plot may be formulaic, there’s a lot of that trademark Pixar heart on display. Just a beautiful film.