Lee Unkrich (director)
Disney Pixar (studio)
108 Minutes (length)
15 January 2018 (released)
In Mexico, a young boy called Miguel is dreaming of being a musician. The problem is that his family have banned music. You see after his great grandmother Imelda Rivera husband abandoned his family to become a musician, Imelda banned music from the house. Her daughter Coco was left without a father and Imelda was left penny less and alone. She built a shoe making enterprise and saved the family . So her great-great-grandson dreams of becoming a musician look improbable. Then he has luck, a local talent show is to be put on and he could become like his idol Ernesto de la Cruz, Mexico's most famous actor and singer, who also came from his town and found stardom in this competition.
Coco brings Disney Pixar back to pole position, not only as a pioneering animation studio but also away from the sequels awash in their catalogue. They are set to change this situation with a series of original films heading are way over the next three years. Some industry insiders were waiting to see what this film would bring. Allowing people to gauge the likely prospects of the next four films, set to be all original films. The Good Dinosaur, their last original effort, was a damp squib.It was an ambitious start of world story for sure and it had a unique focus on international (and dare I say universal) events, It was large, unbalanced and dull. Its only redeeming grace was its heartfelt tenderness that allowed some connection. It left many in the audience wondering if the magic had warn off.
In steps Coco.Before I begin to sing its praises I will emphasis this! It is sometimes a little on the dark side and some children at my screening at least, cried and left the screen momentarily. The darkness is much more about emotional process, the transporting to the world of the dead and it is quick and well handled. However because it is such a stark visual process and that its tone is sometimes jarring to the jaunty preamble, it is hard to avoid a conflict. This might challenge a younger viewer that is expecting a simpler, easier film. It could also challenge an adult that wants to protect their child from the real world and maybe leave them in cotton or maybe reject notions of an after life...
Right that is done, now Coco. It stands up on what Disney Pixar do well, take an adult film dress it as a children's film and just about get it to feel like a family friendly work (to an extent). Coco has a major national event in the shape of the Mexican day of the dead (last seen in absurd Bond Spectre). This is turned into a regional story about a small town and is centred by a localised focusing on a small boy called Miguel. Or in more plain speak, they have gone back to school and back to what they do best, focus on an individual inside an event and not an event around an individual. It has heart, structure and is simply visually stunning in its use of colour and animation. It keeps to the path of 3 acts and has the right arcs, narrative drives and inciting incidents to make it routine enough to work well for the seasoned viewer. It has a comic dog, a massive multicoloured cat and some funny slapstick to please the children. Then it also has that discussion on death and the family that can and did bring a tear to my eye.