Coco (2017) Review

By Judith Raymer   X Formly Known as Twitter
3 Min Read

Stunning.  Stimulating.  Surprising.  Funny.  Mesmerizing.  Moving.  Disney/Pixar film, Coco transcends the typical animated film.

Directed by Lee Unkrich (Finding Nemo; Monster's Inc.) and Adrian Molina (The Good Dinosaur; Ratatouille), Coco is the latest magic from Disney/Pixar to hit the screen.  Coco doesn't just meet then exceed expectations.  It excels in every aspect.  The story of  Coco began five years before it would grace the big screen.  In 2012, Unkrich began writing an original story; also by Molina, Jason Katz (Toy Story 3; Monsters University), and Matthew Aldrich (Cleaner; Spinning Man).  Molina and Aldrich are credited with the screenplay.

Set against the backdrop of the yearly Dia de los Muertos celebrations in Mexico, Coco is a rich world of senses that expands even more upon entering the land of the dead.  The vibrant colors radiate from the screen transfixing the audience as they visually weave through the layers of storytelling, and worlds.  The opening scene has the main character, Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez; Icebox; Criminal Minds), narrating his family's history as it unfolds from cutout colored flag to flag.  Bright colors were strung throughout in preparation for the Day of the Dead.   

Truly a story about a family, Coco follows Miguel on his quest to fulfill his dreams of becoming a musician (just like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt; Doctor Strange), with whom he feels a strong connection...ahem).  Miguel plans on entering a talent show at the plaza during Dia de los Muertos.  He struggles, however, with the reality that if his family were to find out, they would more than certainly put an end to it.  You see, there has been a ban on music in the family since long before Miguel was born.  

Miguel is driven by his passion for music, and is determined to sing.  Unfortunately, the ban on music has existed since his great-grandmother, Mamá Coco (Ana Ofelia Murguía; Mozart in the Jungle), was just a little girl.  After his abuelita (Renee Victor; Weeds; Confessions of a Shopaholic) discovers his secret, she destroys Miguel's guitar which sets off a string of events...for he has discovered a secret of his own.  Forced to borrow de la Cruz's guitar from his mausoleum in order to perform, he finds himself in the land of the dead with his ancestors at the "Office of Family Reunions." 

As the story continues to unfold, and Miguel takes us along his journey, the vibrant colors grow more robust.  The marigold flower petals meant to guide ancestors to their ofrendas and families form a bridge so beautiful that it appears to breathe with life.  The brightly neoned alebrijes that guide the dead actually glow in the dark; among them, the griffin-like Pepita,  (Dante is a street dog.  A Xolo with a tongue to get tangled in who has adopted Miguel.)  The entire world that comprises the land of the dead is so alive with colorful lights, fireworks, and creatures.  Traveling through the land of the dead has sprinklings of familiarity; gleaning nuances from Star Wars, Avatar, and Las Vegas without borrowing.

The splendor of Coco's richness encompasses far more than just the vibrancy of color.  The music is exhilarating, inspiring, and soothing; from the melodic vocal sounds to the strumming of the guitar.  Whether beautifully on-key, or intentionally going out of capable range, there is a delight in listening to the voices of Anthony Garcia (as Miguel), Gael García Bernal (as Héctor), and Bratt (as Ernesto de la Cruz).  Hearing Alanna Ubach (American Horror Story) sing as Mamá Imelda is a particular gem.   

The scrutiny of every last detail is evident; from wrinkles and jowls to cultural distinctions to the very history of Dia de los Muertos.  The surrounding world is reflected in the character's eyes; both literally and figuratively.  Much credit can be given to producer Darla K. Anderson (Toy Story 3; Cars) who provided all necessary resources (including several trips for the crew) to ensure complete authenticity in every facet of the film be it in the way the Latin tongue is held when speaking or the sign of the cross by an exasperated abuelita.  

Not merely a musical and visual pleasure with all the wonder of a Disney/Pixar film, Coco transcends the typical output by adding some unexpected twists within the storyline.   Of course, the pure sensory joy itself is something to behold.  There are no spoilers (at least, I don't believe so) contained here as it would be a betrayal of the experience of this touching and entertaining film.  

Grade: A

Directed By:
MPAA Rating: PG
Running Time: 109 minutes
Distributed By: Walt Disney Pictures

Stream from Amazon Prime
Purchase Coco from the iTunes store.
Watch on Disney+
Watch on Apple TV

For more information about Coco visit the FlickDirect Movie Database. This release has been provided to FlickDirect for review purposes. For more reviews by Judith Raymer please click here.

Coco images are courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

FlickDirect, Judith  Raymer

Judith Raymer is an accomplished correspondent with a lifelong passion for film and media productions. Her dedication to storytelling and unique perspective have led her to produce some of the most memorable media productions of our time. Judith's daily impromptu interpretations of Marvel characters have helped her reconnect with the entertainment industry, and she is dedicated to promoting the Bohemian ideals of truth, beauty, freedom, and love. Today, Judith is regarded as one of the most respected correspondents in the industry.

Read More Coco Reviews

Movie / Film Review
Coco is a unique film both bright in color and bright in character.  So many lessons learned along the way, Coco is a wonderful family adventure that will grace your digital collection in so many ways.
Full Review | Grade: A
Physical Media: 4K UHD Review
Already a Golden Globe winner for Best Motion Picture – Animated and a near shoe-in for the Oscar this year, Coco offers so much that it really is a complete movie for both children and adults to enjoy.
Full Review | Grade: A


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