Movie Review: ‘COCO’ (2017)
Disney and Pixar’s latest animated feature comes in the form of an amazing cultural representation of a Mexican tradition, the Day Of The Dead. ‘Coco’ is a vibrant and emotionally moving tale of following one’s dreams and reconnecting with one’s roots.
Here is my completely biased, but Spoiler-Free Movie Review of ‘Coco‘.
Rating: ★★★★★ (out of 5)
‘Coco’ is about Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez) and his desire to become a musician, despite his family’s regressive ban on anything musical. Generations ago, Miguel’s great great grandfather abandoned the family to pursue his musical dreams, leaving his great great grandmother to raise their baby daughter all by herself.
This started a generations-long bitterness toward music that has been passed down to Miguel. When Miguel’s family realizes his dreams, his guitar is destroyed leaving him without an instrument for an upcoming musical competition. An errant thought causes Miguel to steal a guitar on the Day Of The Dead, which end ups cursing him for such an act on this holy day. Miguel is mysteriously transported into the Land Of The Dead, as he meets the ghosts of all his relatives, including his great great grandmother, who hates music.
‘Coco’ is a stunning movie with visuals that elate every sense. The vibrant colours and scenic gorgeousness that make up the bulk of the movie alone is worth the watch. On top of which ‘Coco’ has one of the most emotionally rich stories of any Pixar movie, and one that touches the heart and speaks to a universal audience, even though the story is Mexican at heart. It’s amazing to see a culture represented so beautifully in a movie that is, essentially for kids. But not really.
It’s Miguel’s journey through the Land of The Dead, trying to reconnect with his ancestors, trying to trace his love of music that’s been unconsciously passed down through the generations, that makes ‘Coco’ such a beautiful movie.
Despite focusing on one particular culture, the story is something anyone, anywhere in the world can relate to. The feeling of being different in your own family, feeling alone in a crowd, wondering why you are the way you are, and trying to face those questions, is something that everyone experiences at one point in their lives. Being able to know where you come from, understanding your roots, and coming close to possible answers to those questions is one of the benefits of family.
As much as Miguel’s family was shaped by a betrayal, it’s a better understanding of that history that fuels Miguel’s own dreams; makes him risk his family itself to pursue his musical dreams. It’s the first plot point of the story that has many emotional twists and turns. ‘Coco‘ is an allegory for the journey that we ourselves embrace and as we pass down the spirit of our own ancestors to our kids, through stories, morals and values passed down to us.
Newcomer Anthony Gonzalez as Miguel is a treat! A young voice actor with such heart to carry this film is rare, but Gonzalez does it flawlessly. Writer and Director Lee Unkrich, and co-director Adrian Molina, craft a wonderful story of hope, heart and family that transcends borders onto a plane of universal storytelling that can connect with any kind of an audience.
The animation in ‘Coco’, truly stands out from other Disney-Pixar ventures, given its use of a cultural events, and bringing it to life based on both reality and the immense world within the world that they create with the Land of The Dead. It’s stunning art that captivates one’s imagination from the first frame.
‘Coco‘ is a must-watch for everyone. It’s a family friendly film that has to be experienced with family, as it’ll tug at your heartstrings and bring your closer to your own family.