written by Adrian Molina and Matthew Aldrich
from a story by Lee Unkrich, Jason Katz, Matthew Aldrich, and Adrian Molina
directed by Lee Unkrich
In my review of Kubo and the Two Strings, I mentioned that it was Pixar’s turn to come up with a movie as beautiful and emotionally resonant as that one. It is obvious that the top brass over at Disney must’ve been checking out this site, because a year later Coco was released with a similar plot about a boy, his guitar, death, and the power of music. I knew someone was reading this shit!
Coco‘s the tale of Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez), a kid from a small town in Mexico who dreams of becoming a performer. However, his family, and in particular his overbearing abuelita, have a strict ban on music stemming from Miguel’s great-great-grandfather having abandoned his wife and young daughter Coco to pursue a career as a songwriter. Wanting to join a local talent show on Día de los Muertos, Miguel steals a guitar and finds himself whisked to the land of the dead, where he meets his long gone relatives and realizes there may be more to his great-great-grandfather’s story after all.
There’s no doubt Pixar has upped the ante multiple times in terms of both narrative and animation, and while Coco is fun and visually engaging, I found it slightly convoluted. There’s just too much going on, from an overabundance of characters either flesh or bone, to multiple rules regarding the worlds in which they exist. Still, the ending in which Miguel serenades his ailing great-grandma, getting her to smile and sing along, is as heart-tugging as anything you’ve come to expect from the studio. Coco may not be at the level of Kubo and the Two Strings (sorry, Pixar), but its message of forgiveness and the importance of family resonates just like the strings on Miguel’s guitar.
Carlos I. Cuevas