COCO – A Review by John Strange

FAMILY REUNION — In Disney•Pixar’s “Coco,” Miguel (voice of newcomer Anthony Gonzalez) finds himself magically transported to the stunning and colorful Land of the Dead where he meets his late family members, who are determined to help him find his way home. Directed by Lee Unkrich (“Toy Story 3”), co-directed by Adrian Molina (story artist “Monsters University”) and produced by Darla K. Anderson (“Toy Story 3”), Disney•Pixar’s “Coco” opens in U.S. theaters on Nov. 22, 2017. ©2017 Coco•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.
COCO – A Review by John Strange
Coco is the story of a proud Mexican family, the Riveras.  We meet Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez), the youngest member of the family and follow him home where we meet the rest of the family.  For several generations, the Rivera family has been the best zapateros (cobblers or shoemakers) around.  As the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) approaches we learn the story of how they came to be cobblers.
The matriarch of the family took up the trade when her guitar playing husband abandoned them to live the life of a famous musician.  She turned away from music, decreeing that there would never again be music or musical instruments in her home or her family’s lives. 
Miguel is the great grandson of the first Rivera to become a cobbler.  Each generation has turned away from music and made shoes.  Until Miguel, that is.  Miguel dreams of being a famous musician like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz.  Ernesto came from his village and went on to become hugely famous as both an actor and a singer, revered throughout the country.
As Dia de los Muertos begins, Miguel’s desire to be a musician has grown so strong that he can no longer hide he desire.  He decides to follow in his idol’s footsteps and do what is needed to get his dream.  For Miguel, that means winning the music competition in the village square. 
But disaster happens when his abuella (grandmother) discovers his plans and destroys his guitar.  Without an instrument, he can’t perform in the contest.  No one will loan him a guitar.  His actions to get one have consequences he could not begin to imagine.
The results of his quest will grant him clarity about the truth behind his desires and will help his family by answering questions they didn’t really know they had, bringing them all closer than ever before.
The storyline of Coco deals with many levels of family pride and the consequences of decisions made for love and pain.  The vocal talents of some amazing performers including Gael García Bernal (Héctor) and Benjamin Bratt (Ernesto de la Cruz) bring the story to life but it is the talented artists of Pixar Animation Studios who truly make this movie such an amazing work of art. 
I don’t recommend 3D very often.  All too often I find the special effect fails to give us that something extra we need to justify wearing the glasses for 90-120 minutes.  In the case of Coco, 3D gives us a depth to the land across the bridge, the home of those who have left this life, that 2D just can’t pull off.
I loved this film.  I can recommend Coco for all audiences.  The kids will love the dog, Dante, and all of the colorful characters of the afterworld while the adults will love the story and the music.  The only discordant note I found about the entire film was actually at the very beginning.  The studio altered their standard “castle” introduction to give it a more Latin beat.  To me, it just sounded off.  This is sad as I have seen the intro modified before and I loved it.
Directed by: Lee Unkrich
Co-directed by: Adrian Molina
Cast: Anthony Gonzalez, Gael García Bernal, Benjamin Bratt
MPAA Rating: PG (for thematic elements)
Selig Rating: A+
Runtime: 109 Min.
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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