Any Pixar film automatically comes with a lot of hype and it is warranted as they have been responsible for some of the best animated films of all time. In an age of sequels and remakes, it is always nice to see an original story.
Synopsis: Despite his family’s baffling generations-old ban on music, Miguel dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz. Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself in the stunning and colorful Land of the Dead following a mysterious chain of events. Along the way, he meets charming trickster Hector, and together, they set off on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel’s family history. (Disney)
Starring: Anthony Gonzalez, Gael García Bernal, and Benjamin Bratt
Writers: Matthew Aldrich and Adrian Molina
Directors: Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina
Rating: G (Canada)/PG (United States)
Running Time: 109mins
For showtimes and more, check out Coco on movietimes.com.
Now it wouldn’t be a Pixar film without an animated short preceding it. What may surprise viewers is that it features a non-Pixar film but rather Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Olaf’s Frozen Adventure. This 21 minute short where all the original actors from Frozen returned to voice their characters in a story about Olaf’s (Josh Gad) journey to find a new Christmas tradition for Anna (Idina Menzel) and Elsa (Kristen Bell). It was perhaps a little too long, however, it was still fun to watch despite being predictable and too preachy.
Stories like this don’t come along very often when it comes to animated films. This film couldn’t come at a better time, placing the Mexican people and Mexican culture at the forefront while depicting it in a very respectful way. The film may focus on these but its message and themes resonate with people of all nationalities and cultures. The film is about staying true to one’s self and seizing their dreams but in essence was about family.
The film focuses on a young boy named Miguel (Gonzalez) with aspirations to become a famous musician like his idol Ernesto de la Cruz (Bratt) despite his family’s long-running disdain for any type of music. He mostly kept his musical dreams to himself with his family and his own self-doubt preventing him from taking them any further. Once Miguel decided to prove his talent to the world, he found himself within the Land of the Dead where he encountered some of his deceased family members and another deceased man named Hector (Bernal).
Over his time spent in the Land of the Dead, Miguel embarks on a compelling journey of self discovery where he learned more about himself and as a result, his complicated family history. Despite being in the Land of the Dead, Miguel encountered the same opposition as his living family members. His internal conflict felt very real and became extremely emotional as he was forced to balance what was best for himself with what was best for his family that he still cared for. Being young and inexperienced made it tougher for him with the knowledge that what he’s always known might be wrong.
The storytelling perhaps wasn’t the most original but Miguel’s journey was definitely a rollercoaster ride from start to finish with some nice unexpected yet satisfying turns. The Land of the Dead itself was a vast and beautiful world that was ironically full of life, almost becoming another character in the story. It had its many quirks which were cause for plenty of comedic moments that mostly worked with the majority of the humor stemming from the fact that the residents were skeletons. For a film that relied heavily on music, it did a great job with music that fit nicely within the narrative.
As mentioned, the level of animation here is some of the best in film today. Characters and character animations were both depicted with considerable detail, seemingly lifelike. From the Land of the Dead to Miguel’s hometown, environments were depicted with the same considerable detail with plenty of vibrancy.
The voice acting was excellent across the board with Gonzalez and Bernal being the standouts. The script handles the film’s core theme of family in a deeply emotional way so the voice acting managed to portray this emotional depth through their vocal performances. Gonzalez as Miguel was perhaps the best of the two, showing a considerable amount of range in his performance, beit while singing or in regular scenes. Bernal as Hector was more of a comic relief but there was much more to him than that and shows range in peeling away the many layers to the character.
Overall, this was an amazing animated film and a surefire classic with excellent animation and voice acting, bringing to life a compelling and deeply emotional story full of Mexican culture about family that should resonate with all audiences.