Eye-popping visuals, wonderful writing, and a powerful message make Coco fantastic.
Miguel Rivera (Anthony Gonzalez) is a twelve-year-old boy who dreams of accomplishing more than just being part of the family business. The Riveras have a growing shoemaking business started by their great-grandma Imelda after her husband abandoned them to become a musician (which leads to their family having a strong distaste for music). Rather than learn his family’s craft, Miguel continues to sneak away to play along with the music of Mexico’s most celebrated musician, Ernesto De La Cruz (Benjamin Bratt). While his family is beginning preparations for the Day Of The Dead, he comes across a torn picture of a man who could have a connection with the Rivera’s. What transpires next for Miguel is a whirlwind adventure full of vibrant colors, music, the afterlife, spirit animals, and a spirit named Héctor (Gael García Bernal) who is his only hope to go home.
The color palette in Coco is fantastic. The scenes in Mexico are bright utilizing light oranges and varying shades of red. When we travel to the afterlife, the world is full of oranges that are vibrant and eye-popping.The use of these warm colors is perfectly in tune with the film’s theme, the importance of family.
Lee Unkrich and Jason Katz have constructed a narrative that will undoubtedly appeal to all ages. There are moments of pure frivolity that involve spirit animals and inept security guards in the afterlife. More importantly, Unkrich and Katz have managed to weave in the message of family and its importance in our lives.
The music was just lovely. Don’t be shocked if Disney-Pixar doesn’t start pushing the song “Remember Me” as we get further into awards season.
The way society in the afterlife is structure was perfect. Just like in the real world they have the haves and the have-nots. Members are striving to live their best life even though they have departed from the real world. Just like we have real fears, those on the other side are terrified of being forgotten which plays a central role in this film.
Bratt was the perfect person to voice the pivotal role of De La Cruz. Bratt was able to project the appropriate balance of bravado and sentiment which is crucial towards hammering home the film’s essential message.
While the runtime might seem a bit long, the pacing of the film was perfect.
Coco takes advantage of every opportunity to highlight the intricate layers of the Hispanic culture. One could even make an argument that this film celebrates how family-centric they are.
Rather than gloss by critical elements of the narrative, an appropriate amount of time is dedicated to making these things tangible.
What Didn’t Work
While the film is written well, at times, the film seemed to veer towards those familiar tropes found in most Disney-Pixar releases.
Coco reminds us once again of how great Pixar films can indeed be. While it’s not in the same class of a Toy Story or The Good Dinosaur (my personal favorite), this release is one of the best-animated releases of 2017. Instead of dragging your children to see an incredibly mediocre film like Justice League, invest in seeing a movie that is beautifully animated and well written.