REVIEW: “Coco” is Another PIXAR Classic, Overdue Break From Sequels
I remember a time when Pixar made it known to the public that they were only interested in making animated films based on new and original stories. Pixar was adamantly against sequels. So, what happened? It just seems that Pixar has gotten lazy and gone for an easy buck with a built-in audience instead of taking risks and giving us the possibility of new classics. I can’t say anything bad about the “Toy Story” franchise, but did we really need two sequels to “Cars”, a prequel to “Monsters Inc.”, and a spinoff to “Finding Nemo”? Pixar’s biggest strength has always been finding great stories to tell and have their talent work their magic to make those stories come to life and create animated movies that are so memorable to us all, and that is why I am so glad that Pixar has given us “Coco”, a definite return to form for Pixar.
Going into “Coco”, I was concerned that this was going to be too similar to Fox’s animated movie, “The Book Of Life”. Although both of these movies focus on Día de los Muertos and the characters that inhabit the after life, they are both two entirely different movies and without question, “Coco” is by far the superior animated movie. There are some similarities to other films as well, and the one that came to mind right away for me was “Footloose”, but I definitely saw some of “The Corpse Bride” and maybe a little bit of “Back To The Future” in there too. But “Coco” is it’s own story and a very good one at that.
“Coco” tells the story of a young Mexican boy named Miguel, voiced by Anthony Gonzalez, who has a love and passion for music but his family has been opposed to music for generations. Music is banned in Miguel’s household and he must practice his guitar playing in secret. Without getting into spoilers, Miguel enters the world of the dead and meets a shady character, voiced by Gael García Bernal, who promises to help Miguel find his musical idol Ernesto de la Cruz, voiced by Benjamin Bratt in hopes that he can reunite him with his family in the world of the living.
“Coco” is a wonderful heartfelt story that follows in the traditions of other Pixar classics like “Finding Nemo” and “Up” in which it makes you genuinely feel many emotions by the end of the movie. I haven’t been choked up over a Pixar movie in a long time and I’m glad to see that feeling finally return. The best animated movies are ones that do not dumb down the story for children and in no way does “Coco” do that. This is a movie that both children and adults can enjoy, and I think that adults may enjoy it even more. There is a definite journey that occurs and it keeps you very interested throughout because clues start to emerge and you begin to realize that things might not be what they seem.
“Coco” just feels so authentic and the Mexican culture is very well represented. The world of the dead is so beautiful, with a mixture of impressive colors and designs, and wonderful traditional Mexican music. After watching the festival of Día de los Muertos, I did start to think that maybe we should celebrate the The Day Of The Dead. It seems like a wonderful way to remember our loved ones and to honor them in a very positive way. Death for most can be a morbid subject but I love that that this festival turns it into a celebration for both the living and the dead.
The voice acting was wonderful, especially by newcomer Anthony Gonzalez. You become very interested in his story from the very beginning and a lot has to do with his passion and enthusiasm that he displays voicing the character. And I loved Benjamin Bratt voicing the musical superstar, Ernesto de la Cruz. If there is one song that stands out in this movie it is his rendition of “Remember Me”, kind of like how My Way is tied to Frank Sinatra.
There are some minor parts that do drag at times, but by no means does it take away from the movie. This movie definitely has a lot of heart that is surely lacking in so many animated films. Just wait until you see the coming attractions before the movie for “Ferdinand”, “Sherlock Gnomes”, and “Duck, Duck Goose”. When you get a glimpse at what’s coming, it’s a bit of a relief knowing that you are about to watch a movie that is leagues above them when it comes to class and storytelling.
Which reminds me, I almost forgot the “short” before the film. “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure” is a mini sequel to the animated Disney blockbuster, “Frozen”. Since I have been fairly positive for a change, I’m going to stick with that and say, if you love Olaf, you will like this short. But for 21 minutes, it’s kind of a long short. It’s basically Olaf being Olaf and trying to find a Christmas tradition for Anna and Elsa. One thing it has going for it is it brings back Kristen Bell and and Indina Menzel as Anna and Elsa. Being positive, “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure” is not a train wreck. It’s OK.
If you are looking for an original animated film that is fun for the whole family, with dazzling colors and wonderful authentic Mexican music, take them to see “Coco”.