COCO – A Review by Cynthia Flores

COCO – A Review by Cynthia Flores
I believe the people at Pixar have sold their souls to the devil, because that's the only way I can think of them being able to crank out yet another soon-to-be classic film.  Coco the newest film from Pixar is simply amazing.  When I went to see the film I had a bit of an attitude.   I thought oh great, a Day of the Dead cartoon from Disney's Pixar, I guess they're trying to reach out to the Latino community with this one. I was not sure how they were going to keep from having a one-note film on their hands.  Boy was I wrong about that.  I left truly touched by the film realizing that its universal story of family and remembering those that have come before you will most likely be embraced by anyone that watches it, no matter what their ethnicity.
Coco is the story of 12-year-old Miguel Rivera (Anthony Gonzalez) who lives in a small Mexican Village in Santa Cecilia.  Miguel dreams of becoming a musician like his idol Ernesto De La Cruz (Benjamin Bratt) a famous singer-songwriter and film star from his hometown.  De La Cruz died when he was crushed by a giant bell in a live concert.  However, Miguel believes that he is his great-great-grandfather who left his family to achieve his musical dreams and wants to be a musician just like him.  That will be a tough thing to do because for generations his family has banned music from their live.  It’s  because of the great-great grandmother and her daughter being left behind by her husband for his career in music.  I mean nothing as far as music is concerned, no instruments, no music being played in the house, just no music at all by this well known shoemaking family.   
The family is getting ready to celebrate the Dia de los Muertos.  Which in English is called Day of the Dead.  It is a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico and South America.  It's the day that they believe that their friends and family that have passed before them can come and visit the living.  It's a day of remembrance and a family celebration.
Miguel, unfortunately, has other plans.  You see he’s different from his shoemaking family in the fact that he has a song in his heart and has secretly been practicing a guitar that he built himself.  He wants to be a musician and plans to compete in the Day of the Dead competition in the center of town.  Miguel is very upset after his grandmother smashes his homemade guitar, so he runs away and decides to steal the guitar out of the mortuary of the famous De la Cruz singer to use in the competition.  However, because he is stealing from the dead instead of giving to them on the Day of the Dead, some kind of magic happens.  He becomes enchanted and is able to cross over into the Land of the Dead where his family takes him to his great-great-great grandmother to see if they can figure out what to do next.  
It's then that he runs from his dead family as well, who want to send him back but only if he promises to give up music forever.  So, Miguel is on his quest in the land of the dead with his street dog, Dante, and a friend he made in the city, Hector (Gael Garcia Bernal), to find who he thinks is his great-great-great-grandfather the great Ernesto de la Cruz in order to get a blessing from him that allows him to keep his music.  He has to come back to the land of the living before sunrise.  You see, if he doesn’t get back in time he will become one of them, a skeleton, and stay in the land of the Dead.  Miguel's journey wrestles with what it really means to follow your dreams and to also be a part of family.
One of the stand out features of the movie is the relationship Miguel has with his great-grandmother Coco (Ana Ofelia Murguia); it’s touching.  She's in a wheelchair, looks like she's a million years old, and does not say much but comes across as the precious member of the family that she is.  I think that Pixar, who has always had a bit of trouble really presenting human characters and the emotions they show on their faces has finally hit it out of the park with their portrayal of this beloved great- grandmother.  The scenes Coco is in, when she is a child, and then as an old woman, are so achingly human they will melt the hardest heart in the theater.  You forget that you’re watching a computer-generated person.
I can't tell you how beautiful this film is.  I'm very glad that they did it in 3D.  I usually I don't like 3D, but it really works for this film.  The Magic of seeing the City of the Dead and all the skeleton people in their old style clothes and their brightly colored faces is awe inspiring.  There's nothing scary about any of it.  I really don't think any small children would be afraid because it's done so artfully and not for any kind of horror effect.  I especially fell in love with the spirit animals they have in the story.  They are brightly painted, magical creatures that are shown as anything from tiny little monkeys or lizard/bird combinations to giant and fierce winged cats that protect the humans that they helped bring over to the Land of the Dead.
The film Coco is a must-see this holiday season.  It's not often that you get a film that really delivers so creatively on the sentiment of family and the bond of love that ties them together.  On top of all that there are some mighty fine musical numbers with some beautiful eye-popping scenery to feast on.  So, grab your kids, grab your grandkids, hell if you don't have any of your own just grab a friend and go enjoy this film on the big screen the way it was meant to be seen.
I give this film a solid A+ rating for being so inventive and keeping Pixar's streak going.
Directed by Lee Unkrich, Adrian Molina
Written By Lee Unkrich, Jason Katz
Rated PG
Selig Rating A+
Running Time 1hr 49min
Wide Release Nov 22nd
Starring: Anthony Gonzalez, Gael Garcia Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Alanna Ubach
The Selig Rating Scale:
A – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
B – Good movie
C – OK movie
D – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
F – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn't paid for it.
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