There’s no hiding it I’m a huge Disney Pixar fan – following their last original story, the amazingly smart and emotional Inside Out, I genuinely couldn’t wait for Coco – the story of a young boy’s musical journey set against the backdrop of Día de los Muertos, and boy does it deliver!
Pixar’s latest outing follows the adventures of Miguel Rodriguez, a young aspiring musician who wants to play guitar just like his hero Ernesto De La Cruz, but there’s one problem – his family has banned all music! This ancestral ban can be traced back to his great-great-grandmother, as her heart was broken when she was abandoned by her musician husband in search of fame and fortune, leading the family to believe music is cursed. In a bid to win a talent competition and share his love of music with the world, Miguel sneaks into his hero’s grave to borrow his guitar, but inadvertently finds himself transported to the Land of the Dead. Miguel’s family will have to grant him their blessing so he can return home before sunrise, otherwise he’ll be trapped in that World…
Coco is once again a visually glorious film that features brilliant characters travelling to a new world, whilst exploring deeper themes such as family, love and loss. This has to be one of the most impressively animated films too, the world Pixar has brought to life is so detailed and fleshed out. As soon as the film starts we’re treated to a stunning prologue in the style of traditional tissue-paper art known as papel picado. The vibrant colours are also a real feast for the eyes; whether its the beautifully glowing marigold bridge connecting the land of the dead to the living, or the fluorescent design of the alebrijes, the mythical beasts who act as spirit guides, which are inspired by Mexican folk art.
It’s great to see such a colourful celebration of traditional Mexican culture in this film following Disney’s recent push to diversify their stories, most recently with Moana representing Polynesian heritage. They also have the diverse cast to match as the voice actors are all Latino, featuring Golden Globe winners Gael Garcia Bernal and Edward James Olmos, as well as newcomer Anthony Gonzalez. It was great to delve into the ancient traditions of the Día de Muertos; seeing how the family lovingly prepared the ofrenda with food, candles and marigolds – honouring their ancestors memories.
Michael Giacchino’s score complements the film so perfectly and really brings to life the fantastic celebrations of Día de los Muertos. However for a film centering around music I was pretty disappointed with how little a soundtrack the film actually featured, considering the songs were co-written by Ropert Lopez (The Book of Mormon, Avenue Q and Frozen.) ‘Un Poco Loco’ and ‘Remember me’ were particular highlights though, and Anthony Gonzalez was a real joy to listen to!
Overall, Coco is a beautifully animated original film celebrating music, heritage and family. The story is a little predictable if you’re a Pixar fan, but the genuinely heartfelt and sincere ending may rival the ‘take her to the moon for me’ moment. And yes you’ll probably cry because it is a Pixar film after all, but this has to be one of their best stories for a long time – definitely check it out!