Okay, confession time. Until last night, I’d never seen Coco. Why? I honestly don’t know. I guess it doesn’t help that I don’t often go to see animated films at the cinema these days. I only went to see Frozen 2 because I owed my friend for dragging her to see the awful Joker when she didn’t want to. Of course, there was nothing to stop me watching it once it came out on Blu Ray. Well, nothing but price. Disney Pixar films are always so expensive. But now I’ve got Disney+ and I might as well use it. It’s not as if I’ve been making the most of it in recent weeks. I bought it because I wanted to watch The Mandalorian and I’ve still not done that. And the second season is already here. What am I doing with my life?
Continuing their trend for releasing sophisticated children’s films that deal with mature issues, Pixar took us to the afterlife in 2017’s Coco. Taking it’s inspiration from the Mexican Day of the Dead festival, the film discusses family, death, and legacy. On the surface, it sounds like a pretty bleak but Pixar know how to make something joyous out of something this potentially heavy. It does help that the festival at its core isn’t a sad affair but a celebration of your family’s past generations. So, while this film is certainly emotional, it is also full of life and love.
We are taken our journey to the other side with 12-year-old Miguel. Miguel dreams of being a musician like this hero Ernesto de la Cruz but his family has banned music. Ever since his great-great-grandfather left his family to become a musician. Miguel practices in secret until he is discovered by his grandmother. Something that pushes Miguel to run away and steal his hero’s old guitar. An act that transports him to the Land of the Dead. In order to get home, he needs to get the blessing of a deceased family member. With the help of the lonely Hector, Miguel attempts to track down his family.
In keeping with the holiday that inspired the story, Coco is a beautiful and colourful film. The Land of the Dead has been perfectly designed and the real world has such great attention to detail. Elements have been so realistically rendered that you’ll have to keep reminding yourself it’s animated. There’s a glow throughout this whole film making it one of the best looking Pixar films ever made. And we all know how great Pixar films look. It’s staggeringly beautiful.
Thankfully, this is not a film that relies on aesthetic. The story at its heart has everything you need. If Up! has one of the most emotional opening sequences of any Pixar film, Coco has the a tearjerker of an ending. If you’re anything like me you’ll be fighting back the tears. Don’t worry though, they’ll be tears of joy rather than sadness. I guess you could say that was a bit too much exposition to wade through but the story quickly gets going. It is also thought provoking and deep. There is a real message here about family and the stories we pass down.
This is one of those children’s film that will make you jealous that it wasn’t released during your childhood. Coco is memorable and super charming. It is a celebration of the people who have gone before us and the importance of remembering them. There was every danger that a film based around a Mexican holiday could have turned out really badly. Coco manages to bring together the spirit of festival for everyone to enjoy.