‘Coco’ review: Pixar hits another jackpot

A still from the movie 'Coco'   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

A Pixar film lasts forever. It’s a legend that’s never been more true than with the studio’s 19th feature, Coco. After spending months researching the Latin American country, writer-directors Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina have brought to animated life the visual and sonic splendour of Mexico. The film gets everything bang on, right from an overarching theme that drills in a social message, addictive music, engaging characters and most of all, a celebration of a beautiful culture.

  • Directors: Lee Unkrich
  • Cast: Anthony Gonzalez, Gael García Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Renée Victor, Ana Ofelia Murguia, Alanna Ubach, Jaime Camil
  • Storyline: Miguel needs to find his great-great-grandfather Ernesto de la Cruz to get out of the land of the dead

Unkrich and Molina centre Coco around the festival of Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), where everyone pays tribute to their deceased ancestors. But for such a morbid premise, Coco surely is exuberant. In this animated universe, the dead can venture out of their world to visit family. The youngest of the Rivera family, Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez) inadvertently crosses over and only an ancestor can send him home to his parents. Pixar’s version of the afterlife isn’t grim and dark, instead it’s equally if not more vibrant than life. Here, the dead are happy, that is till someone living remembers them, and puts up their picture in an ofrenda (alter for the dead). Joining Miguel on his reverse trip over the Aztec marigold bridge is his loyal hairless mongrel, Dante. The two must get an ancestor’s blessing to return to the living. But his great-great-grandmother Imelda’s (Alanna Ubach) condition is that Miguel stop playing music. The ban has been in force for generations after Miguel’s great-great-grandfather abandoned his family to become a musician. Miguel enlists the help of the tramp, Hector (Gael García Bernal) to find his ancestor, Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt), one of the greatest musicians ever.

A still from the movie 'Coco'

A still from the movie 'Coco'   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement


For every wide-eyed child watching, Coco’s resolution of the inner conflict between the pursuit of dreams and your family love will be a heartening lesson. On the other hand, the older audience, whose eyes will also enlarge with the film’s spectacular detail, can bask in the warm glow of nostalgia. Pixar has pushed every boundary when it comes to animation. There’s rich detail and emotion in every frame, from the folds of Dante’s hairless body, the textures of the skeletons to the wrinkles in Miguel’s great-grandmother’s face and the vibration of plucked guitar strings. The film is a journey as much for its protagonist as it is for the audience. You can just about feel the warm sunlight of Miguel’s village of Santa Cecilia to bustling activity of the afterworld. Laughs are supplied aplenty, with wisecracks here and there, to juvenile slapstick comedy. And if you got tired of being hounded by Frozen’s ‘Let it go’, get ready for an avalanche of Coco’s music, because each track is a earworm.

There’s a line in the film, “You know that feeling, there’s a song in the air and it’s playing just for you?” Well, Coco is that feeling and it stays with you long after you’ve watched it.

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Printable version | May 11, 2021 12:32:17 PM |

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