ReelBob: ‘Coco’ ★★★½
By Bob Bloom
“Coco,” Pixar’s latest feature, is a lively concoction of music, mirth and mariachi, told against the colorful backdrop of Mexican family traditions.
Young Miguel loves music; it’s in his genes. But for a reason unknown to the boy, his family has banned music for generations — instead, concentrating on their profession as shoemakers.
But Miguel would rather cobble out songs than shoes. He dreams of becoming a great performer like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz.
A family curse lands Miguel in the Land of the Dead, where his deceased ancestors work to get him back to the land of the living, as well as unlock the truth behind the boy’s family history.
Along the way, Miguel is helped by Hector, who also has a personal reason for seeing that Miguel succeeds in his journey.
Because the film is centered on Miguel, you may ask why it is titled “Coco.” You’ll have to see the film to understand the significance of that decision.
Like the majority of Pixar movies, “Coco” centers on an individual who must overcome many obstacles to fulfill his quest and heal his family’s wounds.
“Coco” offers a few plot twists that some observant filmgoers may see coming, but they do not detract or distract from the overall enjoyment of this family-friendly feature.
“Coco” is the studio’s best release since 2015’s “Inside Out.” And it demonstrates that Pixar still works best when it develops original ideas instead of pushing unnecessary and mostly inferior sequels on us.
“Coco” has a big heart. It’s an embracing experience that stresses not only the importance of family, but of heritage — of who your ancestors are and why they made the choices they did.
Newcomer Anthony Gonzalez superbly gives voice to the single-minded Miguel, who wants to understand why his family hates music so he can work to change their minds.
Music makes Miguel soar; it opens his heart and lifts his spirit in ways those around him can neither understand nor appreciate.
And Gonzalez’s voice finely complements his determination to touch audiences.
As Hector, Gael Garcia Bernal is sweetly bumbling yet resourceful, while Benjamin Bratt demonstrates a fine singing voice — and a shifty, sly personality — as the famous Ernesto de la Cruz.
The artists at Pixar have gone all out to create a Land of the Dead that is a colorful and lively confection of costumes and lights.
The music also greatly contributes to the film’s overall appeal.
“Coco” is a joyous feature that mostly hits all its notes, and even the ones that fall a bit flat are not worth carping over.
The film has a couple of songs that could be Academy Award contenders and a story to beat the band.
This fast-paced and buoyant feature is a cinematic feast for the eyes and the ears.
I am a member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. My reviews appear at ReelBob (reelbob.com) and Rottentomatoes (www.rottentomatoes.com). I also review Blu-rays and DVDs. I can be reached by email at email@example.com or on Twitter @ReelBobBloom. Links to my reviews can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.
3½ stars out of 4
(PG), some thematic, mature elements