Written By Adrian Molina and Matthew Aldrich
Composed By Michael Giacchino
Produced By Darla K. Anderson
Edited By Steve Bloom
Directed By Lee Unkrich
Over the years, Pixar would bring us unforgettable stories from a whole new point of view: from toys to under the sea to the skies and even inside your mind, the studio is best known for taking these new perspectives and turn them into some of the best and most beloved animated features in recent years...but what they have yet to achieve however is telling a story revolving around a culture which in the case of 'Coco' is all about the traditions of Mexico. Technically it is true that 'Ratatouille' brought audiences into Parisian culture, but that one revolves more around cuisine and fine dining more than the life and myths of Paris. It does seem like a pretty risky move for this American studio to take on a culture of another country...but if done successfully, then the rewards will be great in the long run-besides, nobody makes it far in life by always playing it safe and taking risks is the company's specialty.
But back to 'Coco' itself, I don't think I've seen a movie where people were so ready to declare it a Disney classic the second it came out since probably during the days of 'Frozen'. Critics loved it, people loved it, adults loved it, kids loved it, and...yeah, I have to agree since I'm on the same boat. 'Coco' is not only visually amazing, but it's great with its characters as well as being phenomenal with its music and unbelievable colors with fantastic imagination. It's funny, it's heartfelt, you'll laugh, you'll cry, it's kind of everything you want out of a movie...which is funny because the setup for this film is one that I usually hate, but can 'Coco' still find a way to deliver a emotional journey full of heart? Let's find out, this is 'Coco'!
COCO: Despite his family's generations-old ban on music, young Miguel dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol Ernesto de la Cruz. Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself in the stunning and colorful Land of the Dead. After meeting a charming trickster named Héctor, the two new friends embark on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel's family history.
Just from the concept alone of Miguel's family hating all music because of something that happened in the past, I was ready to hate 'Coco' because you know that music isn't bad and that the people who forbid it are gonna come around which is the focus most of the time: just someone trying to live their art and somebody else being a jerk until the very end. Thank goodness though that this is not what the movie is focused on since it's actually more of a side thing. It's surprisingly kind of complicated which makes it all the more interesting that I actually followed all of it...and apparently, a lot of kids seem to follow it too since 'Coco' is very good at holding your hand when it needs to hold your hand and letting it go when it needs to let it go because this plot could've so easily been too complicated and yet I was amazed at how well I could follow along. This is also one of the few recent Disney stories that has a surprise villain, but it works since the setup isn't just to go "Gotcha!" but to actually set up a connection between some of the other characters and it works into what they were setting up before as well as furthering what's coming up next. A surprise villain can be fine, but it has to work into the story and that's exactly what this one does. Of course, it didn't help that I found out the hard truth about my own inspirations in the online world shortly after seeing this movie...but that's a story for another day.
The characters are all so likable and even the ones that forbid music are still very likable since they're so energetic yet they all move differently in the different facial expressions and the different energies that they all have...it's just so great to watch. In most Disney movies, I can think of a comic relief that I don't like or a side character that gets too much attention, but here everyone feels like they get just the right amount of screen time to be really enjoyable. It's funny because everyone says they get teary-eyed at the end of this movie and I get teary-eyed too...but not at the scene you're thinking. For me, it's early on when Miguel just likes hanging with Coco and Coco half the time doesn't even know who he is but yet she just looks so happy and content and comfortable being around him and he knows she doesn't know who he is but still wants to entertain her nonetheless 'cause he's just such a likable character and...oh my gosh, this gets me every time since it's just so sweet and it melts my heart.
I guess if I really had to nitpick, it would have to be that the only scene I felt was a little pointless is when Miguel's performing in front of all these other dead people. It's not a bad scene, I just didn't entirely see the point of it and it didn't seem to connect with the rest of the story where everything else really connects to the story...maybe it was just an excuse to have another song, which I can kinda see why in a movie like this. The music is a big part of it and the song that eventually won an Oscar "Remember Me" is so good because they played in so many different ways: it's played early on as this big show number, this big gigantic thing where there's like dancing women and fancy costumes and loud instruments...but then it can also be played as such a slow soft thoughtful song and that's really where it shines and that's where it was meant to be. It's so clever how this movie shows the different ways you can look at music like the different ways you can look at people or life or death. It's just...ah, damn it-it's so good!
Now I feel like I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't bring up a film that was rather similar called 'The Book Of Life'. This came out before 'Coco' and it also has to deal a lot with music and Day of the Dead and this bright colorful world. Honestly when I saw 'Coco', the first thing that popped in my head is that this was gonna be a rip-off and yet at the same time I had to remind myself that it's kind of like seeing Santa Claus in a different Christmas movie. This is just kind of the day since Day of the Dead does have a very distinct look and both these movies do pick up on it...and in comparing the two, 'Coco' is by far the better movie. But I don't know, is there a lot taken from this...were they kind of looking at each other the same way 'Antz' and 'A Bug's Life' was kind of keeping tabs on one another? I feel like for all the originality that's in this movie, I have to bring up a film that does have a similar visual style and ideas.
Nevertheless, 'Coco' still feels like its own thing. It's visually and musically amazing, the characters are amazing as well as the animation and colors...it's all amazing. Based on its description for the plot and forbidding music and the surprise villain, I would think I would hate this film...but much like the movie teaches, it's all about a different point of view and the point of view this movie has is that I know I'm gonna be watching a whole lot more in the future. For that, I'm gonna give 'Coco' a rating of a 9 out of 10.