(Rated PG) 4 Guitars (out of 4)
I must admit when I first saw the previews for the new CGI animated film “Coco”, I wasn’t that impressed. When I made the decision to finally give the film a chance, I am certainly glad I did!
The musical fantasy tells the story of the Rivera family in Mexico and how they have dismissed music from their lives after the family’s matriarch Imelda had to deal with the departure of her husband, who left her for a career in music. The Rivera family became shoemakers and never allow music in their home or for any family to be around musicians. The only problem is Imelda’s great-great-grandson, 12-year-old Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez) dreams of becoming a musician like his hero Ernesto de la Cruz, a popular musician and film star. Miguel enters a local talent show, but when his grandmother Elena discovers his plan, she destroys his guitar. This prompts Miguel to break into the tomb of Ernesto and steal his famous guitar to use in the talent show.
However, when Miguel strums the guitar, he becomes invisible to everyone in the village plaza but his dog and his skeletal dead relatives who are visiting from the Land of the Dead for the Day of the Dead holiday. Miguel’s relatives take him to the Land of the Dead, but he must receive a blessing from his from his family in order to return to the land of the living before sunrise or he will become one of the dead. Imelda will offer Miguel a blessing if he gives up his musical pursuit, but he refuses and heads out to find Ernesto. While in search of Ernesto, Miguel meets Hector, a down-and-out skeleton who once played music with Ernesto, and will help his new friend find the famous star if he will take him back to the Land of the Living so he can visit with his daughter before she forgets him and he disappears. Hector attempts to get Miguel back to his relatives, but Miguel manages to elude his new friend, and finds Ernesto. When Miguel finally meets his musical idol, he learns the truth about the musician and how Ernesto’s actions had a detrimental effect on his family. We also learn the connection between Miguel’s great-grandmother Coco and Hector, and it’s tear-jerking. Speaking of tears, they may just flow at some point during the film, especially in a scene involving Coco and Miguel, so you may want to have a tissue handy. The film ends on a joyous note, with Miguel’s family giving in and allowing music once again into their lives.
The film is glorious in the 3D format, and has eye popping visuals, particularly when Miguel is in the colorful Land of the Dead. The filmmakers do a wonderful job in making Miguel such a likeable character you wish he was part of your own family. While the film is joyous and features enjoyable songs, the real heart of the film is its emotional center. The film also does a wonderful job paying respect to Mexican culture, and when released in Mexico, “Coco” became the highest-grossing film of all time in the country. If that wasn’t enough, the film is proceeded by a holiday themed “Frozen” animated short film. “Coco” is an enjoyable film for the entire family that provides plenty of chuckles between the sentiment.