Review by J.T. Johnson
DIRECTOR: Lee Unkrich
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Matt Aspbury, Danielle Feinberg
WRITERS: Adrian Molina, Matthew Aldrich
MUSIC: Michael Giacchino
I don’t know much in this world, but if I know one thing, it’s that if “Coco” doesn’t win an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, then there is something rotten in the state of Denmark. The latest film from Pixar is a an absolute testimony to their long legacy of quality animation and emotional storytelling. Once again, both kids and adults can enjoy this wonderful tribute to never forgetting your family and the respect they give to Mexican culture.
In this particular story, we follow Miguel Rivera (Anthony Gonzalez), a young boy that is part of a long-running line of shoemakers. The only problem is that his family absolutely despises music due to the fact that the founder of the family business was abandoned by an aspiring musician. Miguel, on the other hand, absolutely loves music and his idol is Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt), the greatest musician in the history of Mexico.
Miguel soon discovers that Ernesto may actually be his great-great grandfather and the one that left the family so many years ago. He takes it upon himself to take part in a music festival to show the world his own skills, but after Miguel steals Ernesto’s famous guitar, he is cursed and trapped in the Land of the Dead. With the help of a trickster named Hector (Gael García Bernal), Miguel heads out to meet Ernesto in order to get his blessing so that Miguel may return to the land of the living.
The only real problem that I had with the movie was that there is a twist that I could see coming from a mile away. However, this was such a small problem in the grand scheme of things.
One of the biggest highlights in any Pixar film is the animation itself. Ever since they released “Toy Story” back in 1995, the studio has always upped their game to not just refine the animation but to also make it speak to the audience in a way that words cannot. “Coco” may just be the finest example of that with dazzling cities in the Land of the Dead, brilliantly vibrant colors and characters that feel more real than some found in live-action films.
In addition to the animation, the voice talent is also on point. The adults all do fine jobs with their roles, but it is Gonzalez that does such a great job with Miguel and I was floored when I found out that the actor himself is only 11-years-old. He brings a lot of depth and emotion to the character and is a true breakout star of the film.
Finally, Pixar films don’t just look good. As I’ve already stated above, there is also an emotional depth to the story meaning that it goes beyond just teaching the kids in the audience a good lesson about the importance of family. There are some genuinely emotional moments that should make any hardened audience member at least tear up a little.
Thanks to Pixar, Disney has been able to add titles such as “Toy Story”, “The Incredibles”, “Finding Nemo”, “Wall-E” and “Up” to their impressive lineup of animated classics. Not only does “Coco” belong on that list, but I think it will continue to entertain people for several generations to come and never be forgotten.