I am not sure what it was about the marketing for Pixar’s “Coco” that just didn’t grab me. Usually I look forward to almost any film from the animation studio that isn’t another sequel in the “Cars”, “Monsters Inc.” and “Finding Nemo” films. Although the animation was clearly stunning, I just didn’t have much desire to experience “Coco”. Having now seen the animated musical-fantasy, I can say that I am glad I did. This is a beautiful story both visually and emotionally, that also features a wonderful music.
Set in a fictional Mexican village, twelve-year-old Miguel Riviera (voiced by Anthony Gonzalez) wants to be a musician like the beloved late singer Ernesto de la Cruz (voiced by Benjamin Bratt). Unfortunately the young boy comes from a family of shoe-makers that have banished music from their home. You see, Miguel’s great-great-grandfather left his family to pursue a life of music, leaving his wife (and Miguel’s great-great-grandmother) to raise their daughter Coco alone. Since that day, music was no longer accepted in the family for generations to come. Because of this, Miguel collects music and practices in private.
When Miguel attempts to participate in a talent contest after discovering that Ernesto de la Cruz might be his great-great-grandfather, he is transported to an afterlife dimension known as the Land of the Dead. There Miguel meets all his ancestors who have passed away. However, he wants to seek out Ernesto de la Cruz as he is the only one who can send Miguel back to the living world without making him give up on music. Assisting the young boy is Héctor (voiced by Gael García Bernal), a lonely but resourceful mischief maker who agrees to help Miguel on one condition. He must display Héctor’s photo in the living world so that he will not be forgotten. If someone in the Land of the Dead is forgotten, then they disappear forever. I don’t want to go into more of the film’s story and give too much away. Much like Miguel, “Coco” is a journey of discovery and it’s best for the audience to discover along with Miguel.
Like with every Pixar film, there is a very important message in “Coco”. Do not ignore your family’s traditions/history, but also make sure to follow your dreams. The final act is definitely a tear-jerker, so make sure to have your tissues handy. Disney-Pixar has done it again. If you are looking for an animated film for the kids that adults will enjoy too, “Coco” should delight the whole family.
By: Marc Ferman