Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Coco: An Animated Achievement from Pixar!




Reviewing an animated film made by Pixar feels almost like cheating. It’s like reviewing a Picasso painting; just about everyone agrees it’s great. However, Disney/Pixar’s latest animated release, “Coco,” caught my eye because of its setting in Mexico and use of local culture and tradition. This all culminates in making “Coco” one of the most exhilarating and heartwarming storytelling I’ve seen from a children’s film in a long while.

“Coco” follows Miguel Rivera (Anthony Gonzalez), a twelve-year-old boy with a dream of becoming a musician just like his idol, the late but great, Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt). Unfortunately, there’s only one thing standing in his way from achieving his dream: his family. After Miguel’s greatgreat grandfather abandoned the family to pursue his musical career, all music has become forbidden in the Rivera Family for generations. When his family eventually discovers Miguel’s musical ambitions, their scolding words cause Miguel to run away.



On the night of Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), Miguel enters into the local talent contest to prove his musical skill. However, he’s barred from joining for lack of an instrument. With nowhere else to turn, Miguel makes the poor decision of infiltrating the mausoleum of de la Cruz and stealing his famed guitar, an action that sends Miguel into the afterlife dimension known as the Land of the Dead, a place populated by the skeletal figures of the deceased. Now trapped there, Miguel has until sunrise to return to the land of the living, or else he’ll be trapped in the Land of the Dead forever.

On paper, this plot sounds like a disturbing tale Tim Burton would make, but on film, this movie is a colorful mesh of animation and culture with an uplifting story that nearly brought me to tears. I love fictional stories that take elements from other cultures and lore and uses them in its narration and setting. Because when done right, they blend together into a fun but also fascinating adventure.

Pixar has been praised for their art style and animation for the past two decades, and once again, it shows here. From the decorative and familiar sights of Miguel’s home village, to the dark but colorful dimension of the Land of the Dead, everything has been detailed down to the bone; Both figuratively and literally.

There’s a number of other features I could praise—the soundtrack, the art style, the voice talent, however, what bears mentioning is the movie’s depiction of the Mexican culture. “Coco” isn’t about just showing it, it’s about experiencing it. The film feels like it understands the culture it’s depicting and embraces it, rather than just using it as a plot setting. It definitely helps the authenticity that the cast was made up of nearly all Latino actors, all of whom do a fantastic job. Not only that, but even the music itself is a fine balance of culture within the film—with some songs being written with English lyrics, while others written with Spanish lyrics.

“Coco” is rated PG for thematic elements. It’s been said before for a number of kid movies, but I mean it with all my heart when I say this is a fun film for all ages—kids, teens, and adults alike. All will get a kick out of the cute jokes, colorful characters, joyful music, complete with a fun story. Not only that, but the gorgeous art, animation, and depiction of Mexican lore and culture will leave everyone blown away. The final score for Pixar’s “Coco” is a solid 9 out of 10.

Marco Island resident and avid moviegoer, Matthew Mendisana is a Lynn University alumnus. While he possesses a bachelor’s degree in science, it’s the arts that attracted his attention. In his four years at Lynn, Matthew managed to achieve Magna Cum Laude status, earn three publications in the Lynn University magazine, make a short documentary featured in the university’s Film Festival, and created a radio PSA that was later broadcasted overseas.

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