Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Family is Celebrated in Brilliant ‘Coco’

Review of "Coco"
Grandma Abuelita and Miguel in Coco (Disney/Pixar)

 MOVIE REVIEW 

From toys, to bugs, to cars, to emotions, Pixar ventures in new territory once again with Coco. Directed by Lee Unkrich (who also came up with the idea for the story) and co-directed and co-written by Adrian Molina, Coco is about a 12-year-old boy, Miguel, who has a love for music but is forbidden by his family to play any instruments of even listen to music. As it turns out, this is because many years earlier, Miguel’s great great-grandfather was a musician who traveled a lot despite his wife’s pleas to stay home with his family. One day he never returned. Bitter, the wife forbade music from her household and took up shoe-making. She passed down her shoe-making skills and her family was taught to learn that music was something that would only lead to heartache.

Review of "Coco"
Miguel's "extended" family. (Disney/Pixar)
Miguel (voiced by Anthony Gonzales) lives with his family which includes his great-grandmother, Mama Coco, who was the daughter of Miguel’s great great-grandfather. Though she doesn’t say much, it is clear that the elderly woman still misses her “papa” a great deal even after all this. The story takes place during the time of the year when Mexican families prepare for the annual holiday of Dia De Muertos. During this season, families set up altars in their homes with photos of family members who have passed away. All of Miguel's family members who have passed away is represented on the altar except for his great great-grandfather whose image has been torn away from a photo that featured his wife and his daughter, Coco. It is their belief that one day of the year, people who have died can come back to their earthly homes to be with their families once again. Miguel has his own shrine for the deceased Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt) “the most famous musician in the history of Mexico.”

Review of "Coco"
Miguel's best friend. (Disney/Pixar)
It is also during this time that Miguel is coming to a crossroads between wanting to honor his family’s wishes while also wanting to share his music with the world. When his family discovers that Miguel has been hiding a homemade guitar, they get upset and Grandma Abuelita (Renee Victor), who rules the family with an iron fist, comes unglued. Frustrated with his family’s lack of reasoning regarding music, Miguel begins to solve a family mystery that ends up giving him the opportunity to crossover to walk among the dead in hopes of finding his distant relative. While that might sound morbid, it really isn’t. And it is surprising that a film that contains so many skeleton characters isn’t remotely scary or creepy.

While wandering around the land of the dead, Miguel meets Hector Rivera (Gael Garcia Bernal) a skeleton who isn’t allowed to come back to his ancestral home because his photo is not on display in his family’s altar. He asks Miguel to bring home Hector’s photo so that he can return and Miguel obliges as long as Hector helps Miguel find his great great-grandfather. What follows is an amazing adventure that the boy will remember for a lifetime, provided he gets back to the land of the living before his 24-hour journey is over, which doesn’t seem that bad. People in the land of the dead seem know how to really live.

Review of "Coco"
Miguel with his idol Ernesto de la Cruz (Disney/Pixar)
Much like Disney’s Moana, Coco is steeped in rich tradition and while many families will applaud that Disney/Pixar is embracing different heritages and traditions. Before opening here in the states, Coco has been playing in Mexico and has become the highest-grossing film of all time in Mexico and it isn’t hard to see why. Coco features beautiful animation, rich characters, great storytelling and a storyline that despite the subject matter, is very easy to understand. Mexico traditions are explained without talking down to the audience. The movie is funny throughout. The movie’s themes about the importance of family, being true to yourself and reconciliation is spoken loud and clear. I suspect that that Coco will be the next Disney obsession of many youngsters next to Frozen. Which ironically, Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, based on the characters from Frozen, will also be shown together with Coco. Unfortunately, the short was not available to critics to review.

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