Thursday, 11 January 2018

Coco



The most popular animated film of 2017 is a gorgeous film, full of great voices, lots of music and powerful positive messages about the importance of family and memory. Unfortunately, Coco isn’t particularly original or compelling (though it has its moments!).

The young Miguel (voiced by Anthony Gonzales) is an aspiring musician. He wants to be the new Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt), the most famous singer in history, now long dead. But Miguel’s family has a ban on music of any kind, thanks to his great-great-grandfather, who left his young family to pursue a music career and was never seen again (despite promises that he would return). Even the photo of Miguel’s great-great-grandparents’ family is missing the head of his great-great-grandfather. It does, however, show a photo of the man’s guitar. When, on the Day of the Dead, Miguel finds the guitar of Ernesto de la Cruz in his crypt, he realizes that the famous singer must be his great-great-grandfather. When he tries to steal the guitar, Miguel ends up entering the Land of the Dead.

Desperate to find his great-great-grandfather, whom he hopes will support his dream of becoming a musician, Miguel explores this colourful, eye-popping new world. Along the way, he will meet his ancestors and the sketchy Hector (Gael Garcia Bernal), who offers to help Miguel if he will take a photo of Hector back to the land of the living. 

There are many wonderful and funny scenes in Coco, especially near the beginning and the end of the film. The overall story, with its focus on family, is a good one, if a little superficial. I particularly appreciated the Mexican setting, the positive depiction of Mexican culture and all the Latin American voices, especially coming at a time when the Trump presidency is in a state of tension with its southern neighbour. I was not surprised to learn that Coco has become the most popular film of all time in Mexico.

What I did not appreciate was the incredibly stupid scene of violence near the end of the film, though what followed was so well done that I am tempted to overlook the stupidity.

Coco is a very entertaining if lightweight Disney film that gets somewhere between *** and ***+. My mug is up.

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