Pixar return to the big screen again, their first original movie since 2015’s The Good Dinosaur, with Coco. Pixar films have a lot to live up to, can we go loco for Coco?
With Pixar movies, expect perhaps with the sequels, or the Cars franchise, there’s an expectation that those behind the movie have done their research.
Coco has been some six-years in development to ensure that their tale, involving Mexico’s Day of the Dead festival, was as accurate as can be. I’m no expert, but the general reaction, apart from Disney attempting to trademark the name of the festival, has been positive.
Coco is not actually the name of our protagonist, rather she is the great, great grandmother of Miguel, Anthony Gonzalez (Icebox (Short), Imagination Of Young (Short)), a young boy growing up in a family of shoemakers.
They make shoes and spurn music, after Mama Imelda, Alanna Ubach (Meet The Fockers, August Falls), was left to bring up her daughter Abuelita, Renee Victor (Weeds (TV), Hot Tamale), on her own because her musician husband abandoned her.
Miguel however has music in his bones and, when he discovers his papa was Ernesto de la Cruz, Benjamin Bratt (Doctor Strange, Despicable Me 2), the greatest singer of all time, he decides to enter a music competition to prove himself.
A slight mishap along the way however, sees Miguel at the Land of the Dead, where he must return to the Land of the Living before sunrise, or risk being trapped there forever.
He meets Hector, Gael Garcia Bernal (Babel, The Motorcycle Diaries), who is desperate for someone to put up his photo and be remembered so he may return during Day of the Dead to see his loved ones once more.
Together, Miguel and Hector must reach Ernesto, so he may grant permission to Miguel to return to the Land of the Living, before sunrise. But all is not as it seems and not everyone is who they appear to be.
As ever with Pixar, the animation is nothing short of magical, in the literal sense, it’s jaw dropping. The colours pop and zing off the screen which adds to the vibrancy and momentum the movie has.
The story is magical and manages to cram so much in, although it does have a nearly two-hour run-time. It’s one of family, roots, history, music, life and so much more.
For Pixar fans, you’ll be wanting to know about the funny little character along for the ride, right? Fret not, for Coco we have Dante the street dog. He doesn’t speak, but the personality writers and directors Lee Unkrich (Toy Story 3, Finding Nemo) and Adrian Molina (The Good Dinosaur, Monsters University) have given him is truly delicious.
Dante spends his time running around frantically with his tongue hanging out and crashing into things. He’s a delightful companion for Miguel and again, adds to the momentum of the movie.
At the heart of Coco we have the music. Mostly of the guitar nature, with a little mariachi-ness thrown in. I was surprised to learn then, that most of the songs are written by Kristen Anderson-Lopez (she of Let It Go fame) and the guitar player is Federico Ramos, who is actually from Uruguay.
Why Pixar didn’t think to use, oh I don’t know, Rodrigo y Gabriela for example. Perhaps the two most famous guitar players from Mexico, I am at a loss to explain. For a company that usually prides itself on authenticity, it seems a strange decision.
Any-who, the music is good, although the songs verge on being a little too Disney for my liking at times. Still, I know for a lot of you, that will be a positive. (It was afterwards that I found out about Anderson-Lopez’s involvement and thinking back it answers a lot of questions.)
Coco has style and comedy, it’s a feast for the eyes and the ears and the voices are matched wonderfully. It’s good to see Pixar back to their original best.