Director: Lee Unkrich Studio: Disney/Pixar
Pixar’s “Coco” Offers Colorful and Musical Memories
Not to be confused for another “The Book of Life” adventure, the team of Pixar Animation Studios has offered an eye-dropping, second main course this year after producing Cars 3. The “ingredients” Disney and Pixar have put together are child actor, slapstick sidekick, refreshing memories, family gatherings, colorful images, and emotions. As far as music films echo compared to “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Aladdin,” and “The Lion King,” this film reached the perfect musical height and more complex for the background and plot twist than these four.
The story tells about the ambitious twelve-year-old kid, Miguel, who wanted to become a musician just like his idol, but the main conflict is his family were turned against music. Fulfilling his dream, he must rebel on the Day of the Dead celebration but stumbles into the other side of the world, the Land of the Dead. To return to the living world, he must have some music talents while learn the importance of family and its generations.
The peak of the idea for the film and the worlds of the Land of the Dead was extremely ambitious with some breathtaking experiences and discovery that people drew the line or border of any place, similar like the shadows of Trump’s effort to build a wall on the border. The film highly spread existential questions on how it follows between loving the families and loving the life of music of the familiar masterpieces from time to time. It would be rough to figure out what was more important than ever after witnessing the action and the emotion “Coco” has been carried on as a legacy similar to 2007’s “Ratatouille.” There’s a lot more than anything than everyone’s heart desires. If you can recall from Disney’s “Zootopia,” the motto is “where anyone can be anything.” Going back to “Ratatouille,” where anyone can cook.
As for acting, child actor (and newcomer) Anthony Gonzalez (as Miguel) provided the most intentional, steadiest role ever for a child character, similar like Russell from Pixar’s “Up,” after appearing two episodes from 2014’s “The Bridge” and 2017’s “Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders.” This was his first time leading the role as a conductor for the rest of the cast. Benjamin Bratt (as Ernesto, Miguel’s idol) provided the most wonderful, beating voice than the mediocre “Despicable Me 2” as El Macho. Even the Mexican actor, Gael García Bernal is willing to save his character, the mess, and the entire family.
The film was perfectly magical as it contains some sense of cartoon slapstick and humor for the film’s acts. But the two most important ingredients are music and family gatherings, which are the centerpieces to the family tree and in everyone’s hearts to remember the love ones, life or loss. It would brought a revitalizing moment to see and to learn from living families and deceased ones. The plot was a heartwarming, delightful taste of the original sensation like the “WALL-E,” ‘Ratatouille,” and “Inside Out.” Though the film’s structures are exactly similar based on “The Book of Life” but Pixar put more effort and eye-dropping ambition throughout the years. The direction, the writing from Pixar worker, Adrian Molina, the music, the entire cast, skeleton characters, and the background have outdone it smoothly and painstakingly. It takes a plethora of people, commitment, years, dedication, idea-makings, and hard work to put everything in one big presentation. It was over improved than “Cars 3” when this film have went to the finish line first. The originalities were better off than “Finding Nemo” and “Cars” sequels. Fun fact is “Coco” director, Lee Unkrich, have pitched this idea after directing “Toy Story 3” and before “The Book of Life” got made in 2014.
Before I get a chance to see this, I took a trip to the Mexica-Art museum, located in Austin, TX, to discover the Day of the Dead arts and creations representing the Mexican holiday tradition, defining research, and assignment. It was true commitment to learn about how Day of the Dead was celebrated every year around the world.
Overall, this film looks mighty great as a Day of the Dead and Thanksgiving treat to all families and friends. You can also watch ‘The Book of Life” before you watch this film, but under the hood, they’re both as aspirational as ever. I don’t understand why this film was released on Thanksgiving despite the fact this is a Day-of-the-Dead film but mainly due to box-office competition with Marvel’s “Thor: Ragnarok” took its date. I can guarantee this film is a “must” and on “before you die” to-do list. Great movie for not only for Mexicans but also for Asians and Americans as well. Due to positive reception, I may predict that “Coco” may have a slight chance of being nominated for an Oscar.
As a bonus, there was a Walt Disney Animation Studios short film, Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, featuring the returning characters from “Frozen.” Josh Gad will be brought back to life as Olaf along with Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, and Jonathan Groff. This is the first time Pixar would screened this non-Pixar short film, thought it definitely served as a holiday treat for fans. Running time for this short is 21 minutes while “Coco” is 109 minutes.
(Review by Henry Pham)