The latest motion picture from Disney Pixar centres around Miguel, a young boy who just wants to play guitar like his idol, the late superstar Ernesto de la Cruz. But his strict, shoe-making family has outlawed music due to his great-great Grandfather running out on the family to be a musician. Miguel sets out to prove himself by entering a talent show on Dia de los Muertos (Day of the dead) but after his make-shift guitar is destroyed by his Grandmother, he sneaks into de la Cruz’s mausoleum to borrow the singer’s iconic guitar. But this transports Miguel to the technicolour Land of the Dead, where he meets deceased relatives and makes a deal with a dishevelled skeleton named Hector. If Hector can take Miguel to de la Cruz to get his blessing, then Miguel can bring Hector’s photograph to the other side, thereby ensuring that his memory lives on.
The film’s plot is well tread ground for Disney – the misunderstood dreamer finding their way – but its setting and emotional storytelling set it apart. It explores fairly weighty concepts like commitment to family and the legacy of the lives we lead, through beautiful animation and colourful characters, as well as through song. The soundtrack features two original songs, ‘Remember me’ being the real show-stopper as well as showing up for the teary finale, has the potential to join the rest of the Disney greats.
While the plot never strays too far from the Disney brand, there are genuinely dark moments in this film but they’re never out of place. This is, after all, a movie about the dead. Coco perfectly balances colourful slapstick and goofy comedy with genuinely heart-wrenching moments, which is also down to a stellar voice acting cast of all Latino actors. Anthony Gonzales, who voices Miguel, brings such life to the character at times I forgot the film was animated, and the same can be said for Gael Garcia-Bernal who gives a wealth of depth and emotion to Hector’s character.
In the final scenes of the film there is the usual tug at the heartstrings one could expect from a Disney film. However, in Coco it’s shown with such elegance and grace it’s difficult not to well up.
Coco is a beautiful, fun filled emotional rollercoaster of a film. With gorgeous animation and an ending that would make a skeleton cry, this film is one to remember for sure.
Director: Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina.
Starring: Anthony Gonzalez, Gael García Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Alanna Ubach, Renée Victor, Ana Ofelia Murguía, Edward James Olmos.