Coco follows a 12-year-old boy named Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez) who loves music but is forbidden from it in all forms because his great-great-grandfather abandoned the family to follow his dreams. Refusing to let his family stop him, Miguel steals a guitar from the tomb of the famed musician Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt), so that he can compete in the talent show held on Día de los Muertos. But by committing a sin against the deceased on the day of the dead, he winds up in the land of the dead; in order to get back home, he needs a blessing from his deceased ancestors.
Coco may be the most predictable Disney/Pixar movie I have ever seen. Beat by beat I knew what was going to happen, with shades of the story resembling past Pixar movies such as Inside Out and Finding Dory. Did that stop me from crying? Absolutely not. Even though I knew what was coming, the story is so well-executed that the emotional payoff wasn’t diminished at all. That is a credit to the writers and to director Lee Unkrich.
It never felt like Pixar was appropriating Mexican culture, either (well, maybe in the beginning when a mariachi band played as the star flew over the iconic Disney castle). The story that is mostly about family felt universal, one that just happened to be set in Mexico. And Disney wisely used Latin voice actors, including Papa, the ultimate brogelio (Jane the Virgin fans holler). But even beyond that, the movie pays a loving tribute to our neighbors down south, with a spotlight on the food, the wrestlers, and Frida Kahlo.
While a majority of the film is filled with walking skeletons, the story never feels scary. Coco takes a wonderful cultural tradition and brings it to life with vibrant visuals and a plot that will undoubtedly give the older members in the audience the feels. A-
Be warned there is a 21 minute long Frozen short ahead of Coco. You read that right: 21 minutes. It is painful. Previous Disney/Pixar shorts such as Paperman, Feast, and Piper have been nominated for and won Academy Awards. Olaf’s Frozen Adventure felt like a holiday shill that wasn’t good enough to broadcast on TV. I would say show up late, but rumor is the short is being so poorly received they are thinking of removing it from future screenings, and already have in Mexico. If you do get stuck seeing it, consider it your last chance to go out and get snacks.