Coco Movie Review

Nov 24, 2017, 08:04 IST | Johnson Thomas

Coco is a brilliantly illustrated fantasy that plays around, quite smartly, with pathos, music and comedy. Death and the memories of the dying are the issues addressed here and it's done with a facility that makes it easy for the young to comprehend

'Coco'
U; Animation
Director: Lee Unkrich, Adrian Molina

Cast: Gael García Bernal, Renee Victor, Benjamin Bratt, Anthony Gonzales, Ana Ofelia Murguia, Edward James Olmos, Sofía Espinosa, Jaime Camil, Alanna Ubach, Alfonso Arau, Luis Valdez, Selene Luna, Herbert Siguenza, Carla Medina
Rating: 

Disney's latest Oscar hopeful has family as its most homogenising theme, across a narrative that digs deep into Mexican Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead) culture - when the spirits of the departed can supposedly visit their living relatives. The narrative focuses on Miguel's desire to find his great, great grandfather, Hector's love for his daughter, and the shared bond that develops between the two.

'Coco'
A still from 'Coco'

It's a brilliantly illustrated fantasy that plays around, quite smartly, with pathos, music and comedy. Death and the memories of the dying are the issues addressed here and it's done with a facility that makes it easy for the young ones to comprehend. Death is not that big scary end we expect, it's a smooth transition into an unknown that's brighter and far more fantastic than any ever experienced in the 'Live' world. Coco derives it's inspiration from Hayao Miyazaki's 'Spirited Away' and shares thematic references with Guillermo Del Toro's 'The Book Of Life.' Director Lee Unkrich's experience with child friendly adult themes (FindingNemo, Toy Story 3) holds him in good stead here.

Music has been banned in the Rivera household, ever since Mama Imelda (Alanna Ubach) was abandoned by her musician husband, leaving her to raise Coco all by herself. Coco in fact, is not the main character here - it's Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez) who commands the narrative length and it's his desire to be a musician like his idol Ernesto De Cruz (Benjamin Bratt) - believing him to be his great great grandfather. Since the film is about staying alive in the minds of those we leave behind after death, it's Coco's fading memories of her father that need saving.

The film's attempt to highlight Mexican culture is no doubt laudable. The songs though, an integral part of such animation musicals, are not really hummable or memorable. Miguel and the entire Rivera clan, (sidekick included) are huggable. The spirit animals that can fly in the afterlife look wondrous too. The villain while not bloodthirsty, has ambition driving his dastardliness. The animation and colour schema is eye-pleasing. The 3D aspect is not much of an add-on, even though it's now become a sort of standard bearer for animation films. The few drawbacks notwithstanding, this is one of Disney-Pixar's better efforts of late!

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