At first what I thought was going to be a complete rip off of 2014’s The Book of Life, but instead of bullfighting it was replaced with musicians (spoiler alert: it’s not), DISNEY/PIXAR’S COCO surprised me. Not only is it easily the best animated film of 2017 (with some of the only other movies like Cars 3, Boss Baby, Lego Ninjago, was this really that hard of a category to win?) but it is also another Pixar masterpiece. I absolutely loved it and even had a lump in my throat at the end, which rarely happens to me anymore (yeah I know I mentioned it happened as well last week during Wonder, fuck you). It is the perfect family film that blends tradition, forgiveness, heritage, family, identity, and dreams into a story with heart that contains rich and vibrant animation. You can tell this movie was made with love and care, and it shows throughout the entire hour and 49 minutes.
The reason you might think this is a complete rip off of The Book of Life at first is because both movies deal with the Mexican holiday of Dia De Muertos (Day of the Dead) and while that one was bullfighting, this one deals with musicians. The Book of Life was ultimately a ho-hum affair, not even using original music (they sang recent hit songs) and the story completely diverts from the one Coco tries to tell and The Book of Life didn’t really earn my emotions, I found it to be quite…boring. But thankfully, Coco is the exact opposite. Really great original music, not boring in the slightest, earned laughs and earned heart. It tells the story of Miguel, who was born into a family of shoemakers because Miguel’s great great grandfather left the family to pursue a music career (guitarist, song writer and singer) and never came back. Well, Miguel has that talent, and wants to show it to the world despite his family not wanting any of the members having anything to do with music because of the asshole great great grandfather.
Miguel wants to play at a talent show contest on Dia De Muertos, and after his grandmother finds out his secret and bashes his guitar, he finds and tries to “borrow” a famous other one in the masoleum of a late great famous musician named Ernesto De La Cruz. When he strums the guitar though, he is literally taken to the Land of the Dead. I don’t want to say too much more about the plot to ruin it, other than he has until sunrise to find some sort of way out of the Land of the Dead or become a permanent resident. The last thing I’ll say is that he meets some old dead family members and a drifter named Hector. Trust me, there is much more to the story and a big twist I didn’t see coming (although I should have) until my wife whispered her hypothesis really quickly to me in my ear about halfway through the movie.
What I ultimately liked about this film, I read up on the history a little bit before watching it, is that one of the films writers, Adrian Molina, was upgraded to co-director because he knew a lot about Mexican traditions, Dia De Muertos, and other cultural things, and even did more research while making the movie, trying to perfect everything and not have made up things flying out of his ass. It shows here. Everything about this film shows that it was handled with extreme care. I looked up some of the Mexican traditions, and the traditions of Dia De Muertos after seeing the movie, and everything is dead on accurate. I appreciate that level of detail. Also, this movie is completely made up of Mexican actors and actresses for the voice talent, bringing even more of an authenticity to the project (unlike The Book of Life, who had um…Channing Tatum do a voice).
Another winning part of this film is the animation. The animation is top notch, making Cars 3 look like it was designed by monkeys with Windows ’95 (or was John Lasseter too busy to make the animation stand out and using his time trying to get “friendly hugs from women”? Too soon?). Wonderful vibrant colors, and an excellent attention to detail make this one of the Pixar films where you could watch it a million times and always discover something new. This is the perfect Thanksgiving/holiday movie. I cannot recommend it enough. It’s a film for everyone, and not meant to be seen alone. Take your parents, grandparents, great grandparents, kids, friends, I guarantee they will all enjoy it. I myself cannot wait to watch it again.
Mini Review of the animated short before Coco: OLAF’S FROZEN ADVENTURE
If you are one of those people that thought Frozen was highly overrated, this short probably will not change your mind. It is a longer short, running at about 10-15 minutes, and has Olaf running his snowy ass around town trying to find traditions for Elsa and Anna to celebrate on Christmas. I myself loved Frozen, and loved this little short, where the songs again are quite memorable and didn’t seem just thrown together. Would’ve preferred an original Pixar short though, but I’ll take what I can get.