Review: Coco

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PLOT: A young Mexican boy obsessed with becoming a great singer takes an unexpected trip to the Land of the Dead, where he hopes to meet his hero, a famous musician, as well as get the approval of his deceased relatives.

REVIEW: At this point, it's hardly a surprise when Disney-Pixar delivers a beautiful, thoughtful new animated film to the world; the only questions nowadays are, how will the new film be different from the others, how closely will it keep with the company's tried and true storytelling formulas, and where will it fit in the ranking of Best to Worst Pixar (or Best to Not-So-Great) movies. Their latest effort is COCO, a sweeping epic that predominantly takes place in a landscape not quite like any other we've ever seen: the Land of the Dead. COCO is indeed quite something to behold, an entertaining adventure in an environment that is vast and lovingly detailed. It doesn't rank up their with the all-time Pixar greats for me personally, but there's still no denying it offers not only many eye-popping sights to behold, but a refreshing examination of Mexican culture that is certainly unique, not only for Pixar but for a major animated film in general.

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Like several of its predecessors, COCO's starts off with a lot of information regarding its characters that both sheds light on their backgrounds and foreshadows their upcoming adventures. Perhaps a little more so than usual in this case, but that's understandable considering COCO not only has to handle the journey of its lead, young Miguel (voiced by Anthony Gonzalez), but lay down a considerable amount of exposition regarding the Day of the Dead, the colorful and lovely Mexican tradition that celebrates deceased relatives. Many rules of the afterlife will come into play for Miguel, who, through a series of circumstances revolving around his pursuit of teaching his music-hating family that he's a born musician, winds up in the Land of the Dead. Sounds a touch scary for a Disney movie, but COCO is presented in such a way that makes this strange land an appealing and vivid experience, not a place to be feared. Much care is made to ensure this is the coolest-looking afterlife ever presented on the big screen, complete with singing-dancing skeletons, parties, flying creatures and towering structures.

True to the studio's reliable history, COCO features not one but two lovable sidekicks: Hector (Gael Garcia Bernal), a goofy skeleton who guides Miguel toward his destiny but who has somber secrets of his own, and Dante, a slobbering dog who has followed Miguel from the real world into the Land of the Dead. Together, the three seek out the legendary singer Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt), whom Miguel worships and believes is his great-great-great grandfather. Along the way he meets a bevy of deceased relatives shocked by his musical appreciation (resenting music goes a long way back for this family), but willing to help him on his quest.

Once COCO settles into its story, the beats of the tale are fairly traditional, and we can rather predict where Miguel and the others' journeys will end up. That's neither here nor there, however, as the film brings more than enough visual and aural vibrancy to satisfy. The Land of the Dead is a wonder, right up there with the incredible worlds established by Pixar's INSIDE OUT and Disney Animation's ZOOTOPIA in terms of how utterly complex and effervescent the place is. You can look at any given two inches on the screen and see a plethora of rich details at play. Michael Giacchino's joyous score adds appropriate Mexican-inspired ambience, while several songs peppered throughout provide extra zest. (None of the songs are as exemplary as those featured in recent Disney hits like MOANA or FROZEN, but they're still quite moving.)

Coco movie review pixar disney

The rest of the expected attributes of a Pixar film are here. One cannot complain at all about the voice cast, with young Anthony Gonzalez excelling in leading the large ensemble. Bernal and Bratt are both major standouts, as are Alanna Ubach as Miguel's fiery Mama Imelda and Renee Victor as his stubborn Abuelita. Everyone is going to love Dante, who proves to be much more than just a silly four-legged friend. And, as can be counted upon, tears will be shed plentifully throughout, especially during the touching conclusion. Not the four-hanky weepy that an UP or TOY STORY 3 is (this was directed by the latter's Lee Unkrich), but COCO knows just when to grip the heartstrings with fervor.

Even if it's not top tier Pixar (again, hardly an insult considering their filmography, and maybe upon repeated viewings COCO will get there), COCO is still an irresistible movie, made with the exuberance and zeal we've come to expect from these geniuses. It's also quite an interesting (and positive) look at the afterlife and saying goodbye to a loved one; simply put, it's an animated adventure about death. Leave it to Pixar to venture to such unconventional places.

Source: JoBlo.com



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