MOVIE REVIEW: “Coco” is voiced by Anthony Gonzalez (The Bridge [TV series], Icebox), Gael García Bernal (Mozart in the Jungle [TV series], Amores Perros), Benjamin Bratt (Miss Congeniality, Traffic), Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce [TV series], Meet the Fockers), Renee Victor (Weeds [TV series], Hot Tamale), Jamie Camil (Jane the Virgin [TV series], Looking for Maria Sanchez), Alfonso Arau (Three Amigos, Romancing the Stone), Herbert Siguenza (Larry Crowne, Encino Man), and John Ratzenberger (Cheers [TV series], Cars). It is directed by Lee Unkrich (Toy Story 3, Finding Nemo) and Andrian Molina (The Good Dinosaur, Monsters University), who both wrote it with Matthew Aldrich (Cleaner, Spinning Man) and Jason Katz (Toy Story Toons: Hawaiian Vacation). Miguel (Gonzalez), a young boy raised in a home that bans music based on old family history, wishes to be a musician. So, in an attempt to participate in a contest, Miguel steals legendary musician Ernesto de la Cruz’s (Bratt) guitar, only to be whisked away to the Land of the Dead, where he must get a blessing from a deceased relative in order to return to the land of the living.
“Coco,” Pixar’s latest release, seeks to display the enriched Hispanic culture that includes the day of the dead and beauty of music through fun visuals, fantastic animation, and lovable songs. It’s become relatively noticeable that the beloved animation company has been on a down-swing these past few years. In my opinion, Pixar hasn’t released a classic since 2010’s “Toy Story 3”; sure, “Inside Out” was great (I believe I gave it a 91%), but it didn’t achieve the perfect status most critics gave it in my eyes. Truly, it’s a shame that the company hasn’t reclaimed its old nature, instead opting for fun-but-unoriginal sequels and few, not nearly as fantastical, solo ventures (“Brave” and “Good Dinosaur”). Now, after two years of sequels, we get another standalone film that looks to shake ground: “Coco.” To be completely honest with you, I had no interest in this picture (my reason for not seeing it in theaters). The commercials did nothing for me, as it looked like another “Book of Life.” It didn’t seem to hold the Pixar zest that emanates from the screen, but then again how long has it been since we’ve had that? Now, sitting down with my siblings to view the rental copy of the film, I hoped to be wronged; that maybe my expectations should’ve been raised more from the get-go. And, while “Coco” surely isn’t Pixar’s homecoming, it puts up a good fight. To state the obvious, the best part about this picture is its animation. I mean, come on guys, it’s always astounding whenever you deal with this legendary company. I loved the world-building and atmosphere this film presented; it dug into Hispanic culture beautifully (not that I have that background, but it felt true) and it separates itself from previous Pixar flicks that have typically dealt with talking inanimate objects or otherworldly things. Besides that, the voice acting and songs were great. All of the performances were awesome and the tunes the actors sang were catchy and wonderful to listen to, specifically the Oscar-winning song “Remember Me.” It was performed a few times throughout the flick, and each time it got better and better (different voice actors sang it each time). Given the face-value of these attributes listed, it’s hard to pass down a feature like “Coco.” I would argue that, if given more time and thought, it would be close to obtaining classic status. Unfortunately, many factors kept it from achieving high acclaim, primarily its predictability factor. Good grief, this thing was as readable as a kindergarten book. I saw the “twist” coming from the beginning of this movie, and then predicted the second twist long before it became present. There was nothing startling about this release, nor surprising. Not that all movies have to be this way; I mean, not everything can be unpredictable in a feature. However, the big moments of “Coco” were riding on these surprises that were clearly laid right in front of he audience before they even unveiled anything. Hopefully they expected people to predict these moments, but then again what target audience is this catered to? It shouldn’t be just kids, even though my younger siblings (all children) saw these plot twists coming as soon as I did. With everything already mapped out before the second act is even finished with, it’s hard to fully be captivated by the experience, regardless of several other wonderful factors. All of my griefs reside in the plot, and besides it being predictable, I think the overall scope was too small and short. It felt like an elongated short film, with a formulaic story that takes viewers from point A to point B in a quick flash. Seriously, this thing felt fast, even though it was an hour and forty minutes. This may be in part to it being predictable, but I’m sure there’s more to it. All that took place was Miguel running around the Land of the Dead hunting after a legendary singer. Outside of knowing what will come of the adventure, not much else was done with the character. Even the villain’s end was a rip-off of a former Pixar flick (“Monster’s Inc.”), which really got me upset. Sure, given the circumstances and stature of the character, it made sense, but come on; there had to have been another route to go with. By the end, I had mixed feelings about “Coco.” It was an extremely predictable venture, but it had a nice tone and atmosphere to work with. I loved the songs and the animation, and I could tell there was a good heart behind the production. I just wish that they pushed the envelope further and were more original! Overall, I would say that you’d enjoy it for the reasons I listed. It’s a nice little feature that’ll sure be good for the whole family. However, if you’re looking for the next “Toy Story,” you’re out of luck. FINAL SCORE: 86%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: