Every time Pixar comes up with a new, original idea, we know we’re about to experience something fresh and, most likely, great. Lots of sequels have defined the company’s recent path, but it’s been the new IPs, such as Inside Out and the extremely underrated The Good Dinosaur, the flicks that have most deeply moved us. Coco is the newest among these, so the expectations for it have been crazy. But how good is it? Let’s find out.
Miguel is the youngest member of a family known for its shoemaking company. However, despite his craftsmanship, he couldn’t care less about the business. His true passion is playing the guitar, but his family won’t let him make a living out of his ability to do so due to a no-music rule that has lasted for generations. His love for music will take him on a journey to the Land of the Dead, where he will uncover the real story behind his family’s history.
Before the film, however, a Frozen short was screened. Olaf’s Frozen Adventure is a 25 minute TV special that feels as unnecessary as it sounds. Packed with lazily-written songs, a terrible storyline and one of the most annoying characters in the history of animation, having to watch this film was torture. Disney, stop it. Let Pixar do the short films. Stop prioritising your marketing campaigns. Thanks. 1/10
Pixar is, and has always been, the king of animation. Others have come close in recent years, but the amount of detail in character motion and the quality of visual effects, particularly lighting, Pixar boasts is unheard of. That remains true in Coco, a movie in which no stones have been left unturned. Every detail seems to have been carefully considered, and the result is breathtaking. Facial animations are stunning, making emotional moments heart-wrenching and joyful scenes vivid and exciting. It was very surprising to see that every chord Miguel played with his guitar, every note he fingerpicked, was accurately animated. However, it was the particle system what amazed me the most. Throughout the film, many scenes had beautiful flower petals fly across the screen, and the looks of those moments are extraordinary.
Coco is able to tackle serious, mature themes with a stunning approach that’s deep and family-friendly. Death and loss, the importance of family traditions and how necessary questioning them is, and even more are plot-centric topics, and the sensitivity with which they are handled is remarkable. It has its sad moments, which of course made me shed a tear or two, but overall, the film’s tone is extremely upbeat and positive. The joy I felt while stepping out of the theatre was great, very few movies achieve to create such an effect on me.
The script is excellent, without a doubt. The many twists that come as complete surprises are delightful, but more importantly, the effect they have on the main character are beautifully written. All main characters have proper arcs that make them grow wiser through lessons that will be enjoyed by young and mature audiences alike. However, I do believe that Coco makes the same big mistake Moana did last year: the choice of side-kick is pretty poor. Miguel lives his adventure together with Dante, a dog. The chemistry among the two is fun, but it does get annoying at times due to the comic-relief nature of the animal’s character. In addition, a tiny plot-hole happens with it, so they could have made a wiser choice, such as one of those colourful animals found in the Land of the Dead.
Both original songs and the selection of traditional Mexican songs are a great fit. I found myself enjoying La Llorona more than ever before, for instance. The score, written by the incredibly talented Michael Giacchino, who was in charge of the excellent soundtrack for Up, is, simply put, perfect. Pixar has definitely put a lot of time and effort to studying the Mexican culture, and it has definitely paid off.
All in all, Coco is a timeless classic already. A beautiful and touching story, stunning visuals, a great soundtrack… It has every ingredient it needs to turn into a crowd-favourite. It celebrates life just like we should: remembering the legacy our families will carry for generations to come, together. 9/10