“Coco” is directed by Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina and stars Anthony Gonzalez, Gael García Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, and Alanna Ubach. This Pixar animated film is about a young boy named Miguel whose true love of music is banned by his family, and as he tries to disobey the family, he is sent into the world of the undead where he learns more about who and where he came from.
Pixar is, even with some recent stumbles, the most consistent animated studio of all time, so of course, I was excited to see what they could do here, especially with an original concept. The trailers seemed fun and beautifully animated, and I came in simply hoping for Pixar to deliver on their usual blend of entertainment and emotion.
Once again, Pixar creates a world unlike any other with absolutely magnificent visual effects. “Coco” uses the Day of the Dead to its advantage and makes a brilliantly vibrant, luscious world that stands out for its unique characters, beautiful backdrops, and wonderful use of color. This is a delightful film for the eyes, and one that stands, visually, with Pixar’s best. Along with this, the animation done on the titular character of Coco, played by Ana Ofelia Murguía, is jaw-dropping, as they make this elderly woman really stand out with deep, intricate visual effects done with her hair and skin.
The main duo of Anthony Gonzalez and Gael García Bernal is excellent, as the two both have great chemistry, great singing voices, and work very well together in terms of creating comedic moments, as well as the occasional tug on the heartstrings. García Bernal was the real standout for me as Héctor because of his ability to really bring the comedy and the energy immediately as he came into the film, but also because his voice performance allowed for a lot of growth within the character, and he became the one I cared for the most as the film progressed.
Emotion is Pixar’s bread and butter, and “Coco” certainly follows this trend. The back half of this film really hits hard with themes of family and being grateful for what you have, and it made me want to hug my parents and grandparents more than most films ever could. I’d be lying to you if I said I held back the tears in this film, and the emotional moments absolutely felt earned, and they only worked because of how much I cared about the characters they were centered around.
Though “Coco” gains its footing, and in a big way, the beginning third of the movie felt very shaky. The comedy just wasn’t hitting for me off the bat and the story and character that the movie seemed to be establishing up just did not interest me much to start, as they seemed almost like recycled ideas from other Disney films. The biggest example of that is the dog in the movie, as while he is lovably stupid, he felt exactly like Hei Hei from “Moana” until he progressed later on in the movie. Also, 2014’s “The Book of Life” shares an awfully similar storyline involving the same Mexican holiday, and though the stories in the two films are rather different, the comparisons between the two are too obvious not to mention.
More on the opening portion, because, aside from a scene or two, it’s the only flawed section of the film, I do not think that the “music ban” that the family has in place is a rational way to start the premise of the story. I get the backstory and all of that, but the level of limitations that this family has on something as simple and universally loved as music seemed a bit too much for me. Also, Miguel makes some questionable decisions early on that I was not crazy about, as it made his character less likable right off the bat.
“Coco” may take a bit to really hit its stride, but once it does, the movie is full of life and full of excitement and energy, even when centered on the undead. I loved the main duo of Miguel and Héctor, the visuals are stunning, and the story takes the right amount of twists and turns to stay interesting, while also really hitting me deep in the feels when it needed to. “Coco” has many of Pixar’s strongest elements, and should be a movie that is great for both children and adults alike.
What did you think of “Coco”? Comment below with your thoughts.