Director: Lee Unkrich
Starring: (voices of) Anthony Gonzalez, Gael García Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Alanna Ubach, Renée Victor, Ana Ofelia Murguía, Edward James Olmos
Run Time: 109 mins
Coco is another triumph from the geniuses at Pixar, who continue to prove why they are the masters of animation. It is a memorable, captivating and heartfelt film set to the backdrop of the Mexican Day of the Dead festival. We follow Miguel, a sprightly but well-intentioned twelve year old boy who is obsessed with music. He is an avid devotee of Ernesto de la Cruz, the fictional most famous musician in Mexican history and a scene early on in the film reveals him essentially worshipping the musician through a makeshift shrine that he has created. Unfortunately for Miguel, his family have been torn apart by music and prosper in the shoe-making business and completely ban music out from their lives. This is rather problematic for Miguel, who after a series of events, finds himself transported to the land of the dead and must find his way back to reality before sunrise.
The characters in this film are wonderfully developed and Coco skilfully interrogates the themes of fame and family. After an opening that manages to balance exposition and visual storytelling almost perfectly, I felt part of Miguel’s family that had been introduced on-screen. Many of the personalities and traits of the eclectic family bear similarities to most families and the problems that they face. Once the film moves to the Land of the Dead, Miguel’s living family are largely absent in the film but by the time the end came, like Miguel, it felt like an authentic family reunion. The film also questions the importance (and legitimacy) of fame, from the famous to the infamous.
Coco isn’t quite perfect though. The film does feel rather familiar in its plotting and channels the narrative journey of Inside Out a little, but a couple of late twists manage to keep the narrative fresh. Furthermore, despite being one of Pixar’s longest films, the film could have been a little longer, which would have given it a little more time to breathe as it explores its themes. Instead, the film feels like it’s ticking a checklist, albeit a very good one!
Coco is yet another triumph for the animation giant and ranks as one of their strongest works. It is moving, life-affirming and should manage to appeal to both adults and children alike. It also goes without saying that the attention to detail in the animation is second to none, Pixar continuing to elevate animation to photorealist levels. Combined with the excellent narrative and emotional journey this film takes us through, Coco is a film fully deserving of its all praise.
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