Over the years, Pixar have explored a number of different colourful realities, full of monsters and talking fish and toys that can come to life. Some may even argue that they’re set in the same universe. I would agree with that. But that’s beside the point. One of the things Pixar have yet to explore is that of the Mexican day of the dead, a festive season celebrating and remembering the ancestors of old, and that’s where we begin with Coco. We follow the story of a young boy named Miguel (Anthony Gonzalaz), whose desire to follow his dreams will lead him on an adventure you can only dream about.
Within the land of the dead, skeletons require permission from their relatives to return to Mexico, for if there’s no photo put up of your past self, you can’t return to visit your loved ones. While trapped in this world, Miguel runs into an old skeleton named Héctor (Gael García Bernal), who claims he knows somebody who could help send Miguel home. The two of them embark on a musical journey in a way only Pixar could do, full of heart, humour and wonderful visuals, making this an instant Pixar classic in the making.
It takes a while to find its feet, but once it does, Coco is phenomenal. This is a very family-oriented story that tugs on the heartstrings in typical Pixar fashion while also telling a colourful, exciting adventure with belly laughs one minute and tear-jerking plot twists the next. I found myself always half a step ahead of the plot, able to figure out what was coming a mere moment or two before it actually happened, but the emotional resonance remained strong. The entire third act is all one giant tug on the heartstrings. If you don’t get at least watery eyed during the finale, you’re lying.
While this film did hit home for me, one of my biggest issues with it is that it feels way too dark to appeal to kids. I’m not talking dark in a Coraline sense, where it plays out like a horror film for kids but a kids film nonetheless, I’m talking about this being a thematically deep and very adult story disguised as a kid film. Pixar delve into some very heavy topics, including death, dementia, the afterlife, murder and betrayal, a lot of which won’t hit kids in the same way it’ll hit adults. There weren’t very many kids at my screening, so I may be mistaken, but I’d be very surprised to see them enjoying this movie or getting as much out of it as I did.
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