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Coco (Disney-Pixar) - Review

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 5 out of 5

IT TOOK Pixar’s Lee Unkrich and his creative team six years to make their latest animated adventure, but the effort proves more than worth it. Coco is a magical journey that is as uplifting as it is – at times – heart-breaking.

The film embraces all of the Pixar values we’ve come to know and love, from innovative storytelling values to memorable characters, awe-inspiring visuals, strong characters and a seemingly effortless mix of comedy and drama.

Like Inside Out and Wall-E before it, Coco offers something profound and turns it into something quite wonderful.

The story follows a 12-year-old boy named Miguel (voiced by Anthony Gonzalez), whose close-knit family of shoemakers have banned music following a family tragedy.

Miguel longs to play and disobeys them whenever opportunity allows, but when faced with an ultimatum, he runs away, steals a guitar belonging to his deceased icon, Ernesto De La Cruz (Benjamin Bratt), and finds himself unwittingly transported to the Land Of The Dead during the Dia De Muertos celebrations (which enables the deceased to visit the living and perpetuate their memory).

Trapped on the other side and seeking his deceased family’s blessing to be allowed to continue playing, Miguel subsequently faces a race against time to get what he wants or risk remaining in the afterlife for good.

As with the best Pixar movies (or their originals, as opposed to a lot of their sequels, Toy Story aside), Coco works on so many levels that it plays equally as well to adults as it does to kids.

Hence, while the youngest viewers can marvel at the stunning visuals and the rich world that Unkrich has created (complete with fun characters and wondrous beasts), adults can really explore the many themes the story has to offer – from the importance of family to the choices we make in life and how they can inform legacies.

In addition, viewers of every age can peek into another culture and understand another belief system, one that extols plenty of heart-warming values as it seeks to hold onto the memory of former loved ones and keep their spirits alive.

Indeed, it’s in this final area where the film really excels, delivering a hugely poignant climax that genuinely tugs at the heart-strings. You may well be struggling to keep the tears at bay on at least two occasions.

That’s not to suggest that Coco is overly dramatic or preachy in any way. Far from it. Pixar have long been able to tap into emotional complexity without compromising on fun or adventure. And in this regard, Coco also delivers some impressive set pieces based around the race-against-time scenario that Miguel finds himself in.

There’s great characters too. Miguel is a hugely endearing kid, whose coming-of-age is vividly realised (particularly when the story takes an unexpectedly dark turn), while the likes of Gael García Bernal and Benjamin Bratt as, respectively, Miguel’s travelling companion and the iconic De La Cruz offer great value and huge emotional range (the former especially).

But all of the exclusively Latino cast deliver the goods in some way, making every character memorable and creating the type of family you’ll love to revisit time and time again.

Coco is a grand cinematic treat: a love letter to Mexico and Mexican culture that transcends genres to offer up something that everyone can enjoy. It’s yet another Pixar tour-de-force.

Certificate: U
Running time: 1hr 49mins
UK Release Date: January 19, 2018