Coco was a film I missed during its initial theatrical run. However, when it returned to cinemas for a week I knew I had to go see it, and boy am I glad I did. Not since Up and Toy Story 3 have I watched a children’s film that made me so overwhelmingly emotional. It’s a phenomenal piece of work.
The action takes place in Mexico on ‘Dia de Muertos’ – The Day of The Dead – and sees 12-year-old Miguel get transported to the land of the dead where he must learn his family and seize their help to return home. The first thing that must be said is that the story is a brilliantly original way of teaching children a darker message about love and death. With many Disney films, real life issues are cleverly taught through fun and colourful films and this is perhaps the best demonstration of this since Inside Out. The narrative see’s twists and turns, and fantastically unfolds before you. Plot twists you think are coming a mile off are clever red herrings, preserving the truth of events perfectly until they are fully revealed. The final act is a particularly moving one, and by the end of it I was a blubbering mess at such a beautiful wrapping up of the narrative.
The look of the film is just as beautiful as the story. All of the characters are fantastically designed and their voice cast all do a great job of bringing them to life. The colours and lights in the land of the dead are particularly stunning, and it is clear that great efforts have been taken to respect the culture and honour this great Mexican holiday.
The humour is equally engaging, and is well timed to ensure that the children will be entertained by slapstick that doesn’t get in the way of the story. A particular highlight was Dante the dog, who’s hilarious silent antics were always uplifting. Pixar regular Michael Giacchino was on composing duty, and once again has created a beautiful score that uses toe-tapping Mariachi style music to represent the settings culture. He even gets a cameo in this film as a conductor in the land of the dead.
Overall, I was blown away by this film. While Pixar’s sequel efforts like ‘Incredibles 2’ note a drop in their quality, I am glad to see they are still maintaining the quality of their original films. Coco is a beautiful depiction of culture that is respectful with its themes and powerful with its message. A worthy winner of the Oscar, BAFTA, Golden Globe and National Board of Review awards.