Quick Hit: Family, music, and how they go together – Pixar lands another winning movie.
Coco starts off fairly quickly – Miguel wants to play music, but his family doesn’t even allow music. And despite the quickly approaching Dia de Los Muertos, Miguel is unable to understand the holiday, unable to understand the reason for his family’s hatred of music, and their love of, of all things, the shoe trade. This leads Miguel to rebel, and eventually, land in the Land of the Dead (not the Romero movie).
And wow – the movie absolutely picks up from there. Pixar’s animation style is always beautiful, but here, they completely take it away. Every single image is wonderfully rendered, including every emotion, every movement, every blink and every dance move. And Coco relies on the motion of the characters as much as it does the look of them. This leans into some of the cultural aspects of the film – the Mexican culture is one full of love, life, and laughter, and the Land of the Dead as been rendered as such. It’s huge and colorful, even more so than the real world. What is normally Pixar’s strongest aspect here is probably the second strongest, falling behind even the story.
Visitors to their own ofrendas, altars set up to honor the memories of the dead. Without a picture placed on an altar, there can’t be any visiting the real world, or their living family. Enter Hector, a skeleton who is nearly forgotten that just wants his picture placed on an ofrenda. Music is also a big part of Hector’s life, but Miguel doesn’t see it. This film is as much about Miguel growing up and understanding that life goes beyond his own desires as it is about how music, or creativity, can get inside someone and truly infect them. Nearly all the characters have this same infection – whether it’s the desire to make shoes or music, they’re all driven to the same conclusion – they have to do anything to give into their gift.
Miguel’s gift, the music, floods the film. Often times shown in conjunction with Ernesto de La Cruz, Miguel is a master, and the music is the heart and soul of the whole film. It’s touching, emotionally driven music. Sometimes it’s extremely uplifting, pulling you up as high as you can go. Other times it’s a humourous but saddening tune to a man who is about to disappear forever. And finally, nearly all the songs head straight from your ears to your heart. It’s emotion in arguably its purest form, and throughout the film, the anthem of “Remember Me” plays, eventually leading to a closure that had me crying wet, beautiful, musical tears.
I loved Coco, nearly every moment of it. I had some small detractors, but they’re minor, and you can find them out for yourself. In the meantime, check out the film – it’s one of Pixar’s best. I’m giving it an “A”.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"