At one point Pixar movies were THE movies to see. I would say that started to change around the time that Cars 2 came out and people began to realize that the company known for showcasing emotions started to cash in completely. I missed A Bug’s Life and haven’t made the time to circle back, and then just more fell to the list that I avoided since they didn’t look appealing (Brave, Monsters University, and Good Dinosaur). The few that I have seen fell short of my expectations (Monsters Inc., Ratatouille, and Finding Dory); but they also had so many spectacular hits that made up for it (Toy Story 1, 2, and 3, The Incredibles, Cars, and Inside Out). The trailers for Coco made it seem like an immediate miss, but the reviews have made it out as the next best thing. So how did it stack up?
I would give it 6 “sugar skulls” out of 10.
FOR THE UNINITIATED
Miguel comes from a long line of cobblers that doesn’t allow music after the great-great-grandfather ran off to pursue a music career. After he steals the guitar from famed musician Ernesto de la Cruz’s mausoleum he is transported to the land of the dead. There he must figure out if music or his family is more important while finding a way back before he is trapped forever.
Directed by: Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina
Written by: Lee Unkrich, Adrian Molina, Jason Katz, and Matthew Aldrich
Starring: Anthony Gonzalez, Gael Garcia Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Jaime Camil, and many more
The animation and attention to detail was front and center. The world was vivid and amazingly vibrant as you would expect. The transition from live boy to partial skeleton was my favorite little detail even though not a lot of attention was given to it. The work put into showcasing the culture on screen was fantastic. I know I probably missed more than I caught since I don’t know much about the Latin culture or Dia de los Muertos, but it would also be a failure to mention how the writers flawlessly integrated Spanish into the English dialogue. Kids (and let’s face it, adults too) need more pop culture items that doesn’t just reflect their lifestyles, and Coco does just that perfectly.
If it wasn’t obvious from watching it, there have been behind the scenes clips for what feels like several months in front of other movies discussing how they documented people playing guitar to get the fingers realistic. Before Coco started, there was yet another clip discussing the amount of detail and texturing that went into the artwork that most people might now even pay attention to. While I did not need the constant reminders that Pixar pays attention to detail repeated over and over again, it is nice to know the animators are getting attention.
The story was the weak link surprisingly. Normally the story is the highlight in a Pixar movie and it pulls from your heart strings several times; but this just seemed to be lackluster. It was predictable with characters that I couldn’t really get behind. My cold heart only slightly melted near the end, but the impact could have been multiplied if the punches weren’t pulled. Instead of the obvious twist that relies on the characters not talking to propel the story, they could have made the choices weigh on Miguel the central focus. Add in the length of the movie and it was easy to become disinterested several times.
Coco was a beautiful movie that brought a fantastic culture into the mainstream, but suffered due to a boring story that dragged on. I feel it is a kid movie that is aimed more towards the older kids with a message only adults will appreciate. This is definitely a movie to watch on the big screen; but I imagine it is probably not great for smaller kids since they would lose interest.
My recommendation is a little movie known as The Sixth Sense. Both Coco and The Sixth Sense revolve around a boy who (SPOILERS) sees dead people. The main character has to do a lot of soul searching to rectify the “ghosts” of their past … yeah that is a bit of a stretch, but that is where the similarities end. The Sixth Sense made M. Night Shyamalan popular, so maybe Coco will bring other cultures and holidays into the mainstream conscience.