Monday, November 27, 2017

[Review] Coco

Pixar's latest gem Coco is a vividly-tuned celebration of music and passion, as well as a magnificent look into the tradition behind Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) -- an annual Mexican holiday in which people pay elaborate tributes to their loved ones that have passed on.

Miguel (voiced by Anthony Gonzalez) is the story's main character. He's a young dreamer and aspiring musician. The only problem is -- music is banned in his household, due to a sour note in their family tree. Through a curse, Miguel winds up in the Land of the Dead -- a vast and intricately designed realm where he meets his late family members in all their face-painted, rattling skeletal glory. From there, he embarks on a quest to find his elusive great-great grandfather, whom he believes has the power to send him home with blessings to pursue music.

We get some pretty spectacular views of this world. The film's impressive animation is a feast of sugar skulls for the eyes. The visuals burst with vibrant colors and dazzle with an effervescent glow. The voicework is stellar too, lending an enthusiastic authenticity to the tale with pitch-perfect performances from the likes of Gael García Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Renée Victor, and Jaime Camil (the hilarious Rogelio from "Jane the Virgin"). And while the Wizard of Oz-like narrative covers ground similar to 2014's The Book of Life, it still possesses some wonderful storytelling in its own right. The plot is stacked twists and turns and amusing characters. There's a funny bone here, but it becomes quite apparent that everything is connected by the film's dramatic and emotional spine.

There's also a heart-tugging musical sequence that features the film's sweet and catchy headlining song "Remember Me", and it certainly will be remembered. Oh, and that ending. It's a tearjerker -- the kind where it seems like someone is slicing onions right in the movie theater.

Coco is so rich with themes of family, legacy, memories, and yes -- death. But for a film that does approach the subject of death so often, it's incredibly full of life.

* 9/10 *

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