Coco

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I was able to keep myself from blubbering out loud and the 3D glasses hid the tears fairly well.

Coco is the newest emotional wallop released by Pixar Studios in the same vein as former films Inside Out and Toy Story 3.

In the new movie, we meet 12-year old Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez) as his family prepared for the Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) by setting up the remembrance photos of family members who had since passed.  The family had been devastated decades ago when Miguel’s great great grandfather left to follow his dream to become a musician, leaving behind his wife and infant daughter.  Because of this betrayal, the family had rejected music in any forms and had become shoemakers.

The problem was that Miguel had music in his soul and would sneak away from his family to play his guitar, and watch movies and tapes of his hero, the late Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt).  When Miguel discovered that his great, great grandfather was actually de la Cruz, he planned on entering a talent show on Día de los Muertos, despite the objects of his family.

When she found this out, Miguel’s grandmother Abuelita (Renée Victor) destroyed his guitar and insisted that Miguel give up his dreams of music and that Miguel help fix the pictures for his great grandmother Mamá Coco (Ana Ofelia Murguia), who had started to lose her memories and was slipping away from life.

Miguel would not give up his dream, reacting impulsively and running away from his family.  Sneaking in to steal the original guitar of the legendary de la Cruz, Miguel found himself magically transported to the Land of the Dead.  There he came across the skeleton corpses of his deceased family members who want to help Miguel cross back over to the land of the living before the sun came up and turned the boy into a skeleton, trapping him in the Land of the Dead forever.

While in the Land of the Dead,Miguel meets a trickster named Hector (Gael García Bernal) who is afraid of being forgotten in the Land of the Living and agrees to help Miguel find his great great grandfather de la Cruz in exchange for Miguel to return to the Land of the Living with a photo of Hector, to keep him from fading away into forgetfulness.

Coco is a beautiful, heart-warming, heart-wrenching story of family and love and what it means to honor those who have died.  It provides us with amazing culture insights into the Mexican culture and creates a spectacular world of color and joy.

The animation is astounding once again.  Pixar has never had issues with the visual imagery of the animation and Coco is no exception.  It is full of colors, breathtakingly gorgeous and as imaginative as any world you could ever think of.

The story of Miguel is wonderful as well, full of emotion and characterization.  I will state that there is a twist in the film that I picked out, but this did not affect my enjoyment of the film.   There was an audible gasp in my theater when it was revealed so it obviously caught some people off guard.

The music was amazing, with the song “Remember Me” probably going to be remembered again during Oscar time.

The character designs of these skeletons were tremendous, taking what could have been a frightening concept and turning it into a funny, warm, almost-magical appearance.

You become so engaged with these characters, especially Miguel and Hector, that the strife affecting them really hits home hard.  The last 25-30 minutes of Coco is about as emotionally powerful as any Pixar movie had ever been.  Richness of story and theme drove home the impactful message of Coco in a sequence that, simply put, reduced me to tears.  Such a lovely and beautiful segment.

The film was emotional, extremely funny, filled with Mexican culture and enthralling music.  As if there were any doubt about Pixar after this summer’s weaker Cars 3, Coco shows the world that the studio is still capable of creating original movies with powerhouse poignant moments for the whole family.  Unlike many animated movies, Coco is for both the children and the parents.  Young and old.  Everyone can enjoy this film.

Coco is a brilliant film and one of the best films of the year.

5 stars

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