“Coco” stars Anthony Gonzalez, Gael García Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Renée Victor, Ana Ofelia Murguia, and Edward James Olmos. Released on November 22, 2017, the film has a young boy searching for the truth behind his family history in the Land of the Dead.
The film is directed by Lee Unkrich, who also directed Toy Story 2, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, and Toy Story 3. It is the 19th film in the Pixar Animation Studios library. One of the things that I love about the holidays is spending quality time with my family. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, the list goes on. There are even holidays that are celebrated outside the United States, especially the popular Mexican holiday known as “Dia de Muertos” (which means “Day of the Dead” in English). This holiday is the main concept of the latest original project from the brilliant minds of Pixar. This is the latest animated film that revolves around the Day of the Dead since 20th Century Fox’s The Book of Life back in 2014, and right from the start, I knew that this would be another winner for Disney and Pixar. I mean, look how well it’s doing in Mexico in terms of box office. But I’m getting too far ahead with myself. Let’s just find out how good it is.
As part of the Pixar tradition, the story in “Coco” is simple for kids to follow along, but it is also full of inspiration and meaning for teenagers and adults as well. I’m extremely happy to say that this movie still continues that tradition. In fact, this is probably the most affective (and the most beautiful) Day of the Dead film I’ve ever witness, live action or animated. From the marketing, you might think that this is another “chasing your dream” movie that happens to take place during the Mexican holiday, and you’re right. It does have its familiar tropes that we’ve seen a dozen times before in other films (a flaw that has been unavoidable since the very beginning), but Pixar managed to use those tropes to form a path that leads its audience to the film’s true purpose: The importance of family. It’s deep (but not too deep for kids), and it’s surprisingly emotional, especially during the third act. Yeah, that’s right, I got teary-eyed from watching an animated film. It’s perfectly OK for men to feel a bit emotional. The film also gets a plus for bringing in a few newcomers (mostly Mexican celebrities), as well as familiar actors like Benjamin Bratt and Edward James Olmos, to voice the characters. Newcomer Anthony Gonzalez did a great job as the main character, Miguel, who sets out to become a musician despite his family’s ban on music. Now I’m feeling certain that Pixar got that idea from watching The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning. Speaking of which, the characters in the film were very well-developed in my book, such as Miguel and a charming jokester named Hector (Bernal). Going back to what I said about the film being “beautiful”, there is one obvious reason why I chose that word to define it, and that, my readers, is the animation. In terms of the Mexican culture, the character designs, and its gorgeous and creative Land of the Dead setting, the film’s animation flawlessly respects the Mexican holiday as well as providing the same amount of depth as its invigorating story. The musical score by Michael Giacchino also helped in providing the perfect experience of exploring the film’s culture. There’s also that specific song that I’m hoping will get recognized during awards season.
Overall, with its affective themes, fantastic animation, fun characters, and a brilliant score by Michael Giacchino, “Coco” is another Pixar treasure that’s imaginative and deeply moving. While I still enjoyed The Book of Life for its concept and animation, I think this film is superior in terms of storytelling. Yes, it has a few cliches, but its amount of emotion and visual wonder made them more forgivable rather than forgettable. Unfortunately, it doesn’t top Inside Out as my favorite Pixar film of all time, but it came really close to doing so. Anyone who’s a big fan of Pixar will not be disappointed with this latest outing. I would also recommend it to everyone who’s familiar with the Mexican holiday as well as families. Heck, I would even recommend it to Spanish classes. This is definitely another film that I will be rooting for at the Oscars this year.