Dan's Review: "Coco" one of the best films of the year
Nov 22, 2017 06:10PM
● By Dan Metcalf
Coco - © 2017 Disney/Pixar.
Rated PG for thematic elements.
Starring (voices of) Anthony Gonzalez, Gael García Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Antonio Sol (singing), Alanna Ubach, Renée Victor, Ana Ofelia Murguia, Alfonso Arau, Selene Luna, Dyana Ortellí, Herbert Siguenza, Jaime Camil, Sofía Espinosa, Edward James Olmos, Luis Valdez, Lombardo Boyar, Octavio Solis, Gabriel Iglesias, Cheech Marin, Carla Medina, Blanca Araceli, Natalia Cordova-Buckley, Salvador Reyes, John Ratzenberger.
Written by Adrian Molina, Matthew Aldrich, Lee Unkrich and Jason Katz.
Directed by Lee Unkrich.
In my own culture and religious beliefs, families are eternal. I love stories that bond ancestors to the living, creating a connection between the living and the dead. No matter what your beliefs about what becomes of your loved ones after death, it’s somewhat comforting to think that they know who you are and live on in some other realm. Such sentiments play an essential part of Coco, the latest film from the Disney/Pixar studios.
It’s the story of Miguel, a young contemporary Mexican boy who dreams of becoming a singer like his idol, the late Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt – character, Antonio Sol – singing voice). Miguel lives with his extended family that produces a successful line of shoes in his village. The shoe business was born following the disappearance of Miguel’s great-great grandfather, a musician who left a wife Imelda (Alanna Ubach) and daughter Coco (Ana Ofelia Murguia) behind to pursue a career in show business. Imelda’s choice to eradicate all music from her life is passed down through generations, now enforced by Miguel’s grandmother Abuelita (Renee Victor). Despite the outlawing of music, Miguel longs to sing, and discovers a guitar on display de la Cruz’s grave (having died in an unfortunate onstage mishap years before). Believing Ernesto to be his long-lost father, Miguel tries to borrow the guitar so he can perform in the town talent show during the “Day of the Dead,” a time when spirits can visit their living relative. As he strums the instrument for the first time, Miguel is transported to the world of the dead, where he meets his ancestors, including his great-great grandmother Imelda, who promises to return him to the loving world on the condition that he give up music forever. Miguel refuses, and seeks out Ernesto, hoping to reunite with the man he thinks is his great-great grandfather. When Miguel has trouble getting close to Ernesto (who is a major celebrity in the “dead” world), a ragged man named Hector (also a musician) offers to help the boy reunite with his idol and supposed ancestor if he will promise to place his photo on display during the “Day of the Dead” so that he will not be forgotten. After a series of mishaps, Miguel and Hector finally meet Ernesto, but soon discover he may not be the musical genius he claims. Meanwhile, Miguel’s ancestors close in and the truth about his father is revealed. Miguel must return to the land of the living before sunrise, or he could end up dead, with dire consequences for Hector.
I can’t give away too much here, nut suffice to say Miguel finds a connection he didn’t know about that bonds his family, living and dead in ways he could not imagine.
Coco is a beautiful, compelling, and wonderful film about family, and the ties that bind us together. I was especially moved at the reverence given to those to whom we owe our legacy, especially the elderly folks who are still with us. The backdrop for this beautiful message is an incredible animated masterpiece that rivals anything Disney or Pixar have done. Coco is not only the absolute best animated film of the year, it’s among the best films of the year.
Go have yourself a good cry, and see Coco this holiday weekend. You will feel a greater sense of family as you gather with your loved ones, old and young.