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Coco Review

November 24, 2017 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
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Coco Review  

Directed By: Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina
Written By: Matthew Aldrich, Adrian Molina, Lee Unkrich and Jason Katz
Runtime: 109 minutes
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for thematic elements

Anthony Gonzalez – Miguel
Gael García Bernal – Hector
Benjamin Bratt – Ernesto de la Cruz
Alanna Ubach – Mamá Imelda
Renée Victor – Abuelita
Ana Ofelia Murguía – Mamá Coco
Jaime Camil – Papá
Sofía Espinosa – Mamá
Alfonso Arau – Papá Julio
Herbert Siguenza – Tío Oscar / Tío Felipe
Selene Luna – Tia Rosita
Luis Valdez – Tío Berto
Natalia Cordova-Buckley – Frida Kahlo
Edward James Olmos – Chicharrón

Pixar brings one of its most marvelous efforts to the screen together in the wonderful, touching and outstanding adventure, Coco. Themed around the Mexican holiday, the Day of the Dead, directors Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina have crafted what is possibly one of Pixar’s most emotional journeys to date; comparable with other Pixar masterpieces such as Up and Toy Story 3.

The story of Coco is centered on Miguel (Gonzalez), a young boy who is part of a family of shoemakers. However, Miguel’s heart lies in playing music. Unfortunately, the matriarch of Miguel’s family, his Abuelita (Victor), hates music and considers all musicians to be the bane of the world’s existence. Some generations ago, Miguel’s great, great grandfather was a musician who left the family to pursue his dreams, leaving his wife and daughter alone. The wife was Miguel’s late great, great grandmother, Mama Imelda (Ubach), and the daughter is Miguel’s now elderly great grandmother, Mamá Coco (Ofelia Murguía). The wound left in the family by Miguel’s father was deep, so much so that music is essentially banned in the family.

As the family prepares for the Day of the Dead, Miguel inadvertently discovers a secret in the family photo. His great, great grandfather possessed a guitar that looks eerily similar to the one used by the vaunted musician, Ernesto de la Cruz (Bratt), the greatest singer in the world. Miguel has now gotten into his head that the great De La Cruz was his great, great grandfather, and it is his destiny to become a musician. However, after his grandmother finds his own homemade guitar and smashes it, Miguel runs away and breaks into De La Cruz’s crypt in the cemetery with the hopes of stealing his guitar, which he thinks is a family heirloom, to play in the town’s talent show. However, by stealing from the dead, Miguel is cursed to walk among the dead spirits, meeting his long-deceased family members who visit the world of the living every year.

The legends of the Day of the Dead are true, and the spirits of past relatives do in fact come to visit from a city of the dead every year. After Miguel is taken to the Land of the Dead, he meets his Mamá Imelda, who has the power to lift the curse that can send Miguel back home, but Imelda will only lift the curse if he promises to forget about music. Instead, Miguel runs off and seeks the help of a forgotten spirit, Hector (Bernal). Hector is a wandering spirit who only seeks to return to Land of the Living to see his daughter one last time. Unfortunately for the spirits, if they become forgotten they disappear from the Land of the Dead as well. Miguel agrees to help Hector in exchange for help in finding Ernesto de la Cruz, who is just as much of a celebrity in the Land of the Dead as he was when he was alive. Unfortunately for Miguel, if he can’t lift the curse before sunrise, he will become a spirit too, and Hector will essentially die in the Land of the Dead if he becomes forgotten.

Most of the plot in Coco hinges on a major plot twist that becomes rather obvious midway through. However, it’s not obvious in a horrendously telegraphed sort of way. It’s an example of a plot twist being predictable, but not at all disappointing because screenwriters Aldrich and Molina craft it in such a compelling and entertaining fashion. The visual artistry of the parallel world of spirits, the Land of the Dead, that’s brought to life in the film is amazingly vibrant and lush with color. Despite a story that’s very upfront about dealing with death, it does so in a manner that’s uplifting and poignant.

The world of Coco is filled with charming characters, such as the other members of Miguel’s family, and the real-life artist, Frida Kahlo, voiced in the film by Natalia Cordova-Buckley. The relationship and friendship that develops between Miguel is especially touching. Unkrich and Molina really know to hit those tearjerker notes with the characters, but still allowing them to feel real, rather than manipulative. The lesson the film is teaching is clear: the importance of family. But even with such an obvious moral lesson, Coco is still quite possibly one of the Pixar’s best films ever made, bolstered by its unique characters and vibrant setting.

With the Mexico setting, the film features fantastic music composed by Michael Giacchino, and an amazing original song at the heart of the film called “Remember Me” by Oscar winners Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez. The true meaning behind “Remember Me” is one of the wonderful moments in the film, where there should not be a dry eye in the house.

By the time Coco reaches its final act, there will not be a dry eye in the house. Coco is a film that even the most cynical of viewers can enjoy because it explores themes that even cynics can appreciate. Don’t be surprised if Coco induces more tears than Up. It’s that good.

The final score: review Amazing
The 411
Coco is a fantastic animated adventure about a young boy's journey into discovering the importance of family and how you still remember and celebrate your relatives and loved ones, even long after they are gone. The film features fantastic animation, sublime music, great characters and a wonderful story. This is the perfect type of movie parents can watch and enjoy with their children together. It is an amazing family film through and through. Coco is undoubtedly a cinematic masterpiece, and it's not a term that's thrown out there lightly.