It’s basically Day of the Dead. Without Romero. Or political allegories.
Despite his family’s generations-old ban on music, young Miguel (Anthony Gonzales) dreams of one day becoming an accomplished musician like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt). Somehow, because he want so desperately to prove the talent that he has, Miguel ends up in the Land of the Dead, where he’s stuck there with all of his dead-relatives, as well as the dead-relatives of practically everybody else on the face of the planet. There, Miguel meets Hector (Gael García Bernal), who concocts a plan with him: He’ll help Miguel get to Ernesto, if Miguel helps Hector be remembered by his family left on Earth. See, the one rule of the Land of the Dead is that if nobody on Earth remembers you, then you automatically go away forever and it’s a fear that’s about to become very real for Hector. And as for Miguel, he has to find a way to become human, once again, before he is stuck in the Land of the Dead for the rest of his life – something that sounds a lot cooler than it actually is.
Pixar is at the point in their existence where they’ll continue to crank-out hits, no matter what. They could be originals or five sequels to Cars; they could be good, or bad; or hell, they could be literally about anyone, or anything. As long as the ideas themselves are well thought-out, fun, and most of all, family-friendly, then who the hell cares what they are?
And it’s why Coco, Pixar’s first original flick since the meh Good Dinosaur, feels like a breath of fresh air. It’s idea is weird for sure, but it’s actually fun and well thought-out, almost to the point of where you never want to leave this world that they are in, nor do you ever want to stop learning more and new interesting things about it. Co-directors and co-writers Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina seem to really appreciate this wacky, wild and colorful world and while they definitely do leave the rules of this universe up to scrutiny, they also realize that it’s not necessarily the point.
Just enjoying the picture show in front of you is all that matters and it’s why Pixar, while not always perfect, at least makes a solid dent in the ball.
It’s also great to see Pixar, for what seems like the first time in general, or in forever, give us a lead character of color and drop us into a world chock full of diversity and hell, without a single white person. You can even call some of the jokes and witticisms that the movie makes at the Mexican heritage a little too “on-the-nose” and “stereotypical”, but it also seems like Unkrich and Molina playing around with these same said stereotypes and turning them on their heads. There’s actual heart and levity behind them and it helps make the movie seem less like an offensive-sketch, and more like an ode to a heritage that still believes in an afterlife that isn’t so dependent on God, or constantly praying to the Lord above.
If anything, it’s more of a movie about family, the stories we tell, and how our legacy is constantly changing with the future generations to come. It’s nothing new or ground-breaking, especially in the world of Pixar, but it’s so sweet, so well-handled, and so honest, that it works. It jerks for the tears, but when they do come (and oh trust me, they will come), they feel earned and worth it, rather than just forced out of us like we’ve come to know and expect with most other animated-flicks like Coco.
Or at least, not with Pixar. They’re on a roll again and it’s getting crazy scary.
Everybody else, look out.
Consensus: The story and themes are a tad familiar, but the bright, colorful and lovely world created within Coco isn’t and it makes for another winner courtesy of Pixar.
7.5 / 10
Photos Courtesy of: Disney