Review: Coco is Another Masterpiece From Pixar

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For the past twenty two years Pixar Animation Studios has captivated audiences of all ages with their imaginative and brilliant films; but lest there are any concerns that they have peaked then their latest film Coco will reaffirm the knowledge we already have:  Pixar is truly a spectacular studio and the best is yet to come.

Coco is a magnificent achievement in animated filmmaking, that although holds great company alongside the other catalogue of Pixar films still shines extremely brightly. The animation is once again extraordinary, the music is utterly delightful, and its celebration of life, love, family, and even death packs a wonderful emotional punch. But perhaps above all it is a touching and respectful tribute to Mexican culture and art that perfectly rounds off this diamond of a movie.

Despite a decades old ban on music in the Rivera family, 12 year old Miguel is determined to become a singer and guitarist. Inspired by his music idol Ernesto de la Cruz, Miguel runs away from home to chase his dreams and ‘seize the moment’.  It is the Day of the Dead (Dia de Muertos) however, a national Mexican holiday and somehow through some magic the young boy finds himself in the Land of the Dead meeting his ancestors and the answers to all his questions.

Coco Review Still 2

The story of Miguel’s journey is a highly imaginative and wondrous one and that is once again masterfully highlighted by the animation. Filled with colours, vistas, creatures and characters this Land of the Dead is in many ways more vibrant the the living world! It’s a breathtaking ride into the human imagination that is also beautifully buoyed by the emotional and sweet story.

With a screenplay by Matthew Aldrich and Adrian Molina, this is probably one of the most emotionally mature and strikingly poignant of all Pixar films. Indeed while all of these films are suitable for children and adults alike, Coco is perhaps the best example of having a greater appeal for older audiences. Children will gain a great appreciation of learning about culture and the themes of life and death, but surely it is the adults that will have their hearts touched the most.

Celebrating the values of family, love and following your passions would make this movie commendable, but its embrace of culture (in this case Mexican) and the idea of remembrance and honour for the dead elevates it to a level of great sophistication. The film’s morals and messages are very touching and there will certainly be tears in viewers eyes, especially at the story’s end.

If there’s any one message to walk away with, the idea of holding the memory of those departed may be the most lasting. In remembering them we add to the richness of our own lives with an ever present and loving nostalgia. For when it is our own time to go, we can only hope to be kept alive in the hearts of those we leave behind.

Musically the film is very charming with a solid score from Michael Giacchino, while Kristen and Robert Lopez of Frozen fame penned some of the movie’s nice songs. The Mexican style is captured well not just musically but thematically. The sights and sounds (in both worlds) are exuberant and rich, exalting its subject matter but never mockingly. It’s a heartfelt tribute indeed.

This film is destined to be a classic and like so many other Pixar films is truly timeless; its beauty is to be found on so many levels. From an animation perspective it thrills, while its narrative themes are affectingly moving and profound. And so combine the visual appeal, the music, the love and the morality and you get a truly wondrous work of art.

If Pixar has increased in quality after each of their films, it seems most evident in Coco. This is an extraordinary example of modern animated movie magic and a superb and richly rewarding viewing. It seems like a culmination of over two decades of filmmaking genius and though we know Pixar will continue with likely future works of gold, if Coco were to be the final Pixar film the studio will have chosen no better creation to sign off with.

Michael Vecchio
Michael Vecchio
Michael Vecchio is a critic, essayist, musician and contributing writer for Before The Cyborgs A graduate of the University of Alberta, he is an avid follower of film, current events, history, and politics. When not at the movies, he is an active pianist and accompanist.



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