- One of Pixar’s absolute best
- Original, relatable and adorable story
- Beautifully animated with stunning visuals
- Genuine Mexican representation and a love-letter to its country
- Catchy tunes that will tug at your heartstrings
It seems strange, but I remember a simpler time when Pixar only had a few films under their belt; Toy Story (1 and 2), A Bug’s Life, Monsters Inc. … They quickly became famous for delivering outstanding films with excellent animation and a heart that appeal to adults as much as their intended audience, children. Now, releasing their 19th film, Coco, Pixar have built up such a strong reputation that their films can’t fail to bring with them not only hype and excitement, but astronomically high expectations. Occasionally they trip up (the Cars series comes to mind…) but they’ve never made an outright bad film yet. So is Coco the one to stop their perfect run? Absolutely not – if anything, Coco shoots right up to the top Pixar films of all time, happily nestled among the best films (animated and otherwise) of all time.
Coco follows a 12 year-old Mexican boy, Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez), whose dream is to be a musician, longing to spend his time playing his guitar and singing. However, after his great-great-grandfather abandoned his family many years ago, his heartbroken great-great grandmother banned music from the family’s household, instead devoting their lives to shoemaking. This doesn’t stop Miguel from trying to compete in the Día de Muertos talent competition. Miguel’s family forbid him to perform, but when he gets his hand on singing idol Ernesto de la Cruz’s guitar, he finds he’s transported to the Land of the Dead. Surrounded by lovable, non-scary skeletons, he discovers the clock is ticking and needs to get a deceased member of his family to give him a blessing to return. Determined to get a blessing which allows him to play music, he teams up with Hector (Gael Garcia Bernal) in a race to find his family.
As they’ve proved time and time again, Pixar can give one hell of an amazing, original story. Whether it’s toys trying to return home, a fish finding his son or ants fighting for freedom, Pixar always manage to find a story that everyone can relate to in some way; a story where someone is searching for something important to them. Coco, yet again, gives us a relatable and universal story about music, family and self-discovery. More than this though, they deliver an original, creative story that’s as entertaining as it is moving. Sweet and touching as we’ve come to expect, this film particularly focuses on the importance of family, acceptance and love embedded in an exciting story which never gets stale.
Of course it’s impossible for it to get stale and for us to feel bored because the film’s just too beautiful. Though now at the point where we rarely even acknowledge it, there are instances where we can see how advanced CGI has become. Coco is a perfect example of what can be done today, with stunning visuals and incredible attention to detail. It is one of the most gorgeously animated Pixar films, with as much detail and thought going into the ‘real world’ as there is in the eternally colourful Land of the Dead. The film absolutely sucks you in with a vivid world saturated with exquisite colour and designs.
Indeed, these would be nothing without the culture of its subject in the first place – Mexico, itself an extraordinarily colourful place. Pixar seem to have in a way dedicated this film as a love-letter to Mexico, its people and its culture. This is far from cultural appropriation some may have feared; instead everything here is utterly Mexican, somehow managing to disguise occasionally exposition-heavy dialogue and make learning fun. Even the language, though predominantly English, still includes many Spanish words, from the basics like ‘gracias’ to more specific words like ‘ofrenda.’ There aren’t any token references to culture; instead Pixar have absolute commitment to the culture, something which is absolutely commendable. This extends even to the cast, all being ethnically appropriate with only the small exception of John Ratzenberger, Pixar’s ‘good-luck charm’ who’s in nearly every Pixar film somewhere.
One aspect not often celebrated in Pixar films is music. While Disney films are often animated musicals, Pixar films are usually just animated films, music confined just to the soundtrack. Instead, Coco places music front and centre along with family as its focus. Beside the gorgeously composed score from Michael Giacchino is music from the very talented Robert Lopez (one of the geniuses behind The Book of Mormon, a show packed with wonderful songs) and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, the couple who notably created those catchy and unforgettable songs from Frozen. Whilst there may be no ‘Let It Go’ in Coco (a relief to parents worldwide), ‘Un Poco Loco’ and, more than this, ‘Remember Me,’ are wonderful songs that will stay in your head and be sung as favourites for years to come. ’Remember Me’ especially is the one song guilty to make you weep in your seat towards the end (make sure you watch this in 3-D – you need the glasses to hide those tears!)
It might seem like a daring move to make a ‘children’s’ film about death – but, yet again, Pixar prove they can make a film about anything and still find a way to make it outstanding. With an original, sweet story, gorgeous visuals, wonderful music and genuine Mexican representation (a real middle finger up to Trump), Coco is a beautiful, magical film that can’t fail to delight audiences worldwide – an absolute masterpiece. Bring some tissues, but get ready for one of your new favourite films.