2018 in Cinema:
Directed by: Lee Unkrich
Starring: Anthony Gonzalez, Gael Garcia Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Alanna Ubach, Renee Victor, Ana Ofelia Murguia, Edward James Olmos
Coco tells the story of Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez) who, on the Day of the Dead, is cursed and transported to the land of the dead, with the only way of him being able to be returned is by a blessing from one of his deceased family members. The problem is, he’s passionate about music, and the rest of his family, both those living and dead, are all dead against music and his deceased family members will only send him back on the promise that he’ll never play again.
I don’t often take animated movies into my blog, but that’s something I plan on improving on and decided a film recently announced in the category for Best Animated Movie at the upcoming Oscars would be a good place to start. I was amazed by Coco by the end; it’s beautiful, it’s emotional, it’s funny and it has meaning. Miguel’s story can be rewritten and retold to combine any two passions; one of your own and one which your family want for you, and the way they treat the living and the dead and the bridge between the worlds is fantastic. Added to that the star power of a deceased musician, Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt, Despicable Me 2), the most famous musician of all time (and Miguel’s idol) and the surprisingly powerful story of Hector (Gael Garcia Bernal) and his journey through the land of the dead, and further adding the level of detail into Miguel’s family history (presenting the living and the dead combined really gives you a full understanding of the family’s history) and this is a film brimming with things.
My reviews are calculated differently for animated movies and live-actions, but this is, technically, the first 5* score I’ve given to a film (although it is easier the way I tally it for an animated movie to hit that score than a live-action film), so credit to Coco for that, and it’s a fully deserved score. It has lovely life lessons hidden inside it as well as a fun story on the outside and lots of surprise reveals throughout, and the ending (after they jump forward one year) is so emotionally powerful without really saying too much that there were a few tears in the cinema I was in.
There isn’t really anything negative I have to say about this film; and those who read my reviews regularly will know I usually have more negatives than positives to say about a film! Some of the joke may be too child-friendly compared to others, giving it a slightly confusing style of comedy at parts as to what ages the film is really aiming at, and maybe they could have had more music, with music being the main thing in the film, but those are minor, minor nitpicks that will not affect the score or its enjoyment. I’ve heard it’s very similar to a animated movie released a few years ago, but I haven’t seen that so I cannot be disheartened by seeing the same story being retold in a different way, but I understand some have taken that as a criticism. But overall Coco is a beautiful film from start to finish, and that is not just a reference to its visuals, but its story, its themes and its messages.