I have a soft spot for Pixar films, as they’ve managed to consistently knock it out of the park (aside from a few misses like The Good Dinosaur). With Coco, they have to walk a fine line, of telling the story of a Mexican family without seeming like they’re pandering. And would a story like this be relateable to audiences as a whole? Let’s see.
We follow Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez), a young boy in Mexico who wants to become a musician but his family won’t allow it. They’re preparing for the Dia de los Muertos celebration and they’re putting out pictures and reminders of their lost loved ones. A long time ago, one of their ancestors abandoned the family to pursue music, so they removed his photo from the altar and refuse to acknowledge him. Miguel believes this ancestor might just be the incredibly famous musician Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt) so Miguel tries to embrace his musical heritage, which results in a crazy trip to the Land of the Dead. He must escape this land before he turns into a skeleton but in order to escape, he must find Ernesto and get his help.
We have the voice talents of Gael Garcia Bernal, Alanna Ubach, Renee Victor, Natalia Cordova-Buckley, Edward James Olmos, and Sofia Espinosa.
Coco is another incredible addition to the Pixar roster. It manages to pull on your heartstrings and give you an incredibly touching story. As a white male, the movie gave me just enough information to really understand what was going on, enough that I still felt deeply invested in what was happening. The theme of family struck a chord with every person in that movie theater.
The movie also manages to not shy away from embracing its Latin roots, including much Spanish that is untranslated. From context clues, I was able to decipher most of what they were talking about.
The performances in this movie also give it a sense of authenticity. Young Anthony Gonzalez as Miguel is perfect, full of life and energy. The entire cast is spot-on, allowing you to immerse yourself in this world.
Aside from the actual voice talent, the other star of the show is the visuals. This movie is vivid and bright and jumps right off the screen. The Dia de los Muertos theme allows all sorts of colors and combinations, giving us an incredible journey here. The human characters look great, but so does the more outlandish creatures and characters, giving us an all-around beautiful film.
Pixar has a history of creating films that punch us right in the gut, in the best way possible. Coco is no exception. This movie builds to something perfect, yet so simple. This movie’s conclusion is satisfying and will leave you breathless during its final moments. It manages to absolutely nail the landing.
What doesn’t work?
Very, very little. Some of the humor doesn’t quite work, especially revolving around the dog character Dante, which felt like it was meant to entertain the kids in the audience. I don’t blame an animated movie for doing that though, it should really appeal to anyone.
Coco is another spectacular entry from Pixar, right up there with the best. It will have you laughing and crying in a perfect balance. If you’re somehow apathetic about Coco, let me tell you now that you will absolutely adore this movie. If you feel like you won’t understand or won’t care about these characters, let me tell you know that you absolutely will. Trust me.