Cast: Anthony Gonzalez, Gael Garcia Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Alanna Ubach, Jaime Camil, and Renee Victor
Director: Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina
Synopsis: Aspiring musician Miguel, confronted with his family’s ancestral ban on music, enters the Land of the Dead to find his great-great-grandfather, a legendary singer.
Coco is about a young, aspiring musician called Miguel who enters the Land of the Dead to find his great-great-grandfather, who is a legendary singer. What follows is an hour and forty-five minutes of harmless fun, and another solid entry into Pixar’s great catalogue of successful animated films.
The animation is artistically beautiful; there’s a bright and vibrant colour palette which decorates the streets, characters and skeletons – and there’s quite a few in this film! The use of colour really brings it to life and enhances the movie experience for everyone, this combined with the great music works really well and brings more emotion into the film, making the heartfelt message beneath the storyline even more effective than it already was.
The Mexico setting is why the colours feel so appropriate; the film’s narrative is told through the holiday, Day of the Dead, where artistic patterns are hung up, stuck on walls and flags propped up and down the streets. The community in the town decorate the paths with these extraordinary colours and ornaments, giving the film a warm and pleasant tone. It made me feel even more involved and eager for the main character Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez) to succeed on his mission, and find the legendary musician known as Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt).
The storyline is very interesting and simple to follow, Coco is quite a basic film based on plot, but it’s what is beneath the surface which is what’s great about it. The message the story gives is very inspiring and important, and deals with modern subjects like trust, friendship and family, and how you should always follow your heart as long as it doesn’t hurt others around you. This is best displayed with the character of Cruz. He pursues his dream, to sing, and does whatever he has to, to achieve this goal, however he hurts his family by doing it. Impacting them emotionally and completely blocking them out of his life. This is the backdrop of the film, the family banishes music from their home, and doesn’t allow anyone to play it near them because of the painful memories it brings back. However Miguel dreams to be like his great-great-grandfather, the legendary singer that everyone knew about. The message of following your dreams is very powerful and impactful in Coco.
The dialogue is handled very well. The screenplay written by Lee Unkrich, Jason Kratz, Matthew Aldrich, and Adrian Molina is nothing special, quite mediocre actually, but it’s the way the actors deliver the dialogue is what makes it work. The script’s problem is that it doesn’t have much flair, unlike previous Pixar films, and just feels average. It doesn’t do anything different from any other animated film and does contain it’s fair share of clichés, however the aesthetic of the film does bring your attention away from the script, but unfortunately good looks aren’t enough to make it the best animated film of all time – or of the year actually.
Another issue with Coco is that it’s very ‘by-the-books’ and quite predictable in certain parts. Especially the third act, where everything is quite obvious and basic. It also contains the cliché emotional scene near the end which ends with rejoice and happiness. It’s nothing new and just sticks to the same formula as other films in this genre.
However when emotional scenes are done well, they really work and they genuinely bring the intended effect from you and the rest of the audience. The film does contain multiple scenes like this throughout and they do hit the right spots, but its in the last third where they start to feel forced and then become ineffective. The last twenty minutes also feel very slow and do drag; with multiple endings during this time, you start to get desperate for it to end, and that’s when you begin to look at your watch quite often.
The voice-acting from the entire cast is very solid. Anthony Gonzalez in particular is very good in the lead role, and handles the music and singing effortlessly. The rest of the cast are all really talented in their roles as well. The passion and effort they put into their acting gives the audience a more immersive and enjoyable experience, and I would be lying if I said I didn’t have a good time watching Coco, but it’s main flaws are quite important parts of filmmaking, and really is the core of the movie. These flaws really need be focused on more in future Pixar films. However the message is really effective, the animation is aesthetically stunning and the performances are all outstanding but the script is very mediocre and the runtime feels a lot longer than it actually is. Beyond it’s flaws though, Coco is a still solid animation film – if a little overrated.