I would like to start this review by apologising to Disney Pixar, Lee Unkrich, Alfred Molina, and everyone involved in Coco. See, at 28, I’d had enough. There is no studio out there with such a monopoly on animation in both on-screen outings and award ceremonies. It’s a bit boring for the latter to be overrun by each House of Mouse outing. So I resigned, I was absolutely done with the shambolic ruling of Disney across our entertainment and our lives.
Then I watched Coco.
Please forgive me Disney, for I was ignorant: Coco is nearly impeccable.
Coco revolves around young boy Miguel. He was born into a family who abhorred music. This stems from his great-great-grandmother Imelda being abandoned by a musician and forced to raise their daughter alone. She did this by making shoes, a skill that has been passed down generation to generation. Miguel, however, feels the draw to music and wishes to play at El Dia de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead.) When his grandmother Elena forbids him from playing and consequently destroys his guitar, Miguel steals the late Ernesto del la Cruz,(believing him to be a distant relative.) But the act causes Miguel to wind up in the underworld. Now he has to find his way back home and the only help he can find is that of a bumbling yet charming trickster Hector. Time is running out, can Miguel make his way to the land of the living?
I’m feeling a bit stumped in how to accurately describe the pure magical adventure of Coco without repeating a few words. This is definitely a film that aches for you to crack open a thesaurus because wonderful, fantastic, and, heck, spectacular, simply don’t do this gloriously epic film justice. Coco‘s animation is the pinnacle of computerised animation: Each detail is filled with hard-work and animation. From the wrinkles and aged skin of matriarch and titular great grand-mother to reflections dazzling upon Miguel’s eye, there is a world of depth and design here that is the gorgeous result of months of passion. When entering the vibrant world of the Land of the Dead, we’re plunged into vibrancy: A spectrum bursting onto the screen with decorative skeletons, neon glowing animal guides called Alebrije, and musical sequences bursting with vivid colour. Your eyes will devour Coco as a great feast, each moment is drenched with impeccable artistry.
This is not a case of style and imagery trumping story. Yet again Pixar layer this tale with earnestness and importance. The emotive tale of a young boy flitting through the underworld, managing the expectations and pressures of his dead and undead family whilst still wishing to pursue his dream unfolds intricate points of scandal, betrayal, adventure, and, ultimately, love. With twists and turns that, albeit, are easy to figure out for keen cinema-goers, Coco is a soulful depiction of death that can open up communications with younger audiences.
Most importantly, Disney have captured a persecuted culture and given them a Unkrich, who is the absolute genius behind Toy Story 2 & 3, Finding Nemo, and Monsters, Inc, has created a brilliant and dutiful film. Alongside co-director Alfred Molina, the Mexican heritage is never mocked or disrespected but depicted with intelligence, research, and absolute love. It’s a wondrous final product that can educate the unlearned about how special El Dia de los Muertos is to Mexico and does who celebrate it.
Coco is filled with lovable characters, especially the young Anthony Gonzalez’s Miguel and Gael Garcia Bernal’s Héctor who make the ultimate watchable ragtag pairing. There’s your usual Pixar staples such as a mute and silly animal character and imposing family members, but even though the movie this all the right notes, it is a tune that is impeccably improved upon.
Coco is an impressive, imaginative, and inspiring piece.
Coco is out on DVD & Blu-Ray now!