Featuring The Voices Of: Anthony Gonzalez, Gael Garcia Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Alanna Ubach, Jaime Camil
Directed By: Lee Unkrich
Plot: Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind. Miguel (Gonzalez) wants to be a guitar player, but his family has banned music because his great great grandfather left his family to pursue his music career. But, Miguel is persistent… which leads him to getting cursed and sent to the land of the dead where he has to earn the blessing of a dead relative in order to return to the land of the living. Bet you didn’t get THAT from the previews.
What Doesn’t Work: Oh yeah, I’m flipping the script. Instead of talking about what DOES work first, I really needed to get something off my chest, and off the chest of about everyone who has seen Coco. FUCK. YOU. DISNEY. Good. Lord. Yes, this is a review of a kids movie, but for all those who went into Coco expecting fucking COCO… we had to sit through FORTY FUCKING MINUTES OF SHIT before Coco actually began. FORTY. MINUTES. Not only was I subjected to the usual 15-20 minutes of previews, but I was subjected to a Frozen Christmas Special which really pushes the bounds of “cartoon short before the movie.” I swear that thing had like five or six musical numbers. It’s the kind of thing that normally premieres on ABC right before CHristmas, but for some reason is ATTACHED TO COCO. I didn’t hate the material, but having forty minutes of Non-Coco material in front of Coco is unacceptable. You know better. That shit should have premiered on ABC or Disney Channel. As far as the actual film of Coco goes, I would say that I saw the “twist” coming a mile away, and that’s a huge problem, because I didn’t get that gut punch emotional impact that I should have gotten at the end. This film definitely has that trademark “Pixar Ending” where it really wants you to cry, and I almost did… because this film is really emotional for like 10 solid minutes… but I didn’t because I knew the twist was coming, like 30 minutes before it hit. It’s that lazy storytelling that keeps Coco from being one of the greats, because it is so damn close. It is Pixar’s best work since Inside Out, but that’s not saying much. I’m just saying it’s better than Cars 3, The Good Dinosaur, and Ginding Dory.
What Works: OK, so the good news… I loved the imagination in this film. It’s like Figment came out of his imagination ride and directed a film. It has that same spark that Inside Out had, creating an entire world that is fully realized both in scope and depth. The world of the dead has its own rules, governance, and way of life that is different from the way we live on earth. The color palette is beautiful. The voice acting is great. And the score? Beautiful. Evocative. I love Remember Me. It’s my favorite original song of the year, and Coco is defintely the best Animated film this year. I hope Pixar continues to make original films and not just sequels, because Coco and Inside Out are far superior to Finding Dory and Cars 3.
Final Word: I wanted to give this film an A, but it has this one glaring problem, and it did actually impact my potential enjoyment of the film. If it wasn’t so painfully telegraphed, the twist could have been the gut punch we needed to sob like little babies. But, instead, you can see it coming a mile away, and even though the film drags its emotional climax on for a good while, it never got me to that point. Because for me, the emotional climax had already been stretched because I was waiting for the reveal to the twist I had already figured out. Otherwise, Coco is pretty damn perfect. From it’s breathtaking visuals to its incomparable score, Coco is a must-see, even if you don’t get all the feels in the end.
Final Grade: A-