Movie Review: Coco (2017)

Theatrical release poster depicting the characters Coco, Dante the dog, Miguel, Héctor, Ernesto, and Imelda when viewing clockwise from the bottom left around Ernesto's white, Day of the Dead-styled guitar. The guitar has a calavera-styled headstock with a small black silhouette of Miguel, who is carrying a guitar, and Dante at the bottom. The neck of the guitar splits the background with their village during the day on the left and at night with fireworks on the right. The film's logo is visible below the poster with the "Thanksgiving" release date.

Title: Coco

Director(s): Lee Unkrich & Adrian Molina

Starring: Anthony Gonzalez, Gael Garcia Bernal, Benjamin Bratt

Rating: A

Recommended?: Yes

Genre: Family/ Animation

Watched On: Amazon Instant


 

I promised myself I wouldn’t get choked up again the second time I watched Coco, but lo and behold, at the end I found myself fighting back tears. Pixar movies have a tendency to do that to me, and I think they often emotionally affect adults more than kids. Anyway, Coco is probably now my favorite Pixar movie except for Up, which is not likely to be dethroned anytime soon (although the way Pixar’s churning out excellent animated features, you never know!)

 

It tells the story of Miguel (voiced by Anthony Gonzalez,) a little boy whose family has banned music on account of Miguel’s great-great-grandfather, who abandoned his wife and daughter to be a musician. Music runs through young Miguel’s veins, but he is forbidden to have anything to do with it, which unsurprisingly leads to a lot of animosity between him and his family. One night on the Day of the Dead Miguel impulsively tries to ‘borrow’ his idol Ernesto de la Cruz’s guitar from his tomb, and he and his dog Dante get sucked into the underworld. Miguel decides to get the deceased Ernesto de la Cruz (voiced by Benjamin Bratt)’s blessing to return to the land of the living, but actually doing so proves to be increasingly difficult.

 

I noticed Coco had some definite plot similarities to Up, with Miguel meeting his hero Ernesto de la Cruz and discovering he’s not the kind of person he thought he was reminding me a lot of the relationship between Carl Fredickson and Charles Muntz, but this is just a minor quibble. I wasn’t all that hyped about Coco when I first watched the theatrical trailer, I knew it might be good (it’s Pixar, after all) but nothing about it particularly grabbed my interest. I’m glad I took the time to watch it because I ended up loving it; the characters are delightful, the animation is beautiful, and there’s so much emotion and creativity put into it that I want to recommend it to everyone who hasn’t seen it yet.

 

They also managed to create a dog character who’s even goofier than Dug from Up, just looking at Dante, the stray Xolo hound Miguel has virtually adopted, with his crazed eyes and too-long tongue was enough to make me laugh. I understood Miguel’s insistence that he get to play music at all costs because that’s the way I would feel if someone tried to never get me to write again. The land of the dead is extremely creative and visually appealing and seems more warm and welcoming that sinister, despite the predominately skeletal population.

 

My favorite part of the realm was the neon-colored spirit animals. I’m emphatically a dog person but between Dante and Miguel’s great-great grandmother Mama Imelda’s giant panther with ram horns, I might have to choose the panther to be my totally awesome spirit animal/pet. While Up is still my favorite Pixar movie (I think Finding Nemo might be my least favorite, I’ve never understood the rampant appeal of that film) Coco is definitely up there, I would say it’s one of my favorite animated films of all time, not just out of those put out by Pixar. I’m twenty-four, and it managed to bring out my inner child, it’s one of those movies that I think is bound it appeal to kids and adults alike.

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