Movie Review: Coco

Coco is the newest offering from Disney/Pixar, and not only is it gorgeous, but it incorporates many Mexican traditions, too. I took Spanish classes in high school and college, so I was semi-familiar with the Day of the Dead, when Coco takes place, but the movie will definitely teach you something new about it.

Miguel (voiced by Anthony Gonzalez) loves playing his guitar, but he has to do so in secret, as his family hates music; his great-great-grandfather was a guitarist who left his wife and baby girl to pursue a career as a musician. On the Day of the Dead, Miguel and his family have placed photos of their deceased relatives on the ofrenda (offering table), as well as a few of their favorite treats. Miguel finds out that there will be a talent contest in Mariachi Square, as it's been nicknamed, and he wants to play his guitar in it; when his Abuela (Renee Victor) finds out, though, she smashes his guitar. Desperate, he searches for another guitar to use in the contest, and ends up stealing a famous one: that of Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt).

After he steals the guitar, however, he notices something weird: people can't see him, and he can see dead people, roaming around others' ofrendas. He soon sees his own ancestors, and they show him their world, and tell him that he must go back to his family's ofrenda and make sure the picture of his Mama Imelda (Alanna Ubach) gets put on the ofrenda; otherwise, she'll be unable to cross into his world, and offer that is good for only one night, during Day of the Dead.

This movie was fantastic. We screened it in 2D, and I have to imagine that in 3D, it would only be better, too. The idea of there being an afterlife so close to the "real world" was interesting, and also the fact that ancestors could freely come back on Day of the Dead to check-up on their (living) relatives and see what's going on with them. In addition to that, the colors and scenery in the film are lush, and Pixar has gone all-out with the animation here. Not only that, but the film has a great voice cast, too: Gael Garcia Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Jaime Camil (TV's Jane the Virgin), Gabriel Iglesias, and more.

Yes, definitely see this movie, and bring Kleenex; there are definitely some scenes that are bittersweet. The film's title, Coco, actually comes from Miguel's great-grandmother, of the same name (who has to be like 100+ years old, but her age is never mentioned); midway through the film, I was thinking this was a poor choice of titles, but Coco has a bigger role in the second half of the movie than she does in the first. I might not recommend this film for younger children, also, as the ancestors are depicted as skeletons; the movie reminded me of a mix of Hocus Pocus meets The Nighmare Before Christmas, in that regard, with their living space being very Harry Potter-esque.

Make sure to get to the movie early, too, as there will be a new Frozen short beforehand, featuring Olaf, which we unfortunately didn't get to see at the screening. Coco is now one of my favorite Pixar films from the past few years, and it's one that I'd like to eventually own, or at the very least, see again on Blu-ray/DVD.

Coco is in theaters today, November 22nd, and is rated PG with a runtime of 109 minutes. 4.5 stars out of 5.

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