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Movie Review: You Can't Miss Coco

Film review for Disney and Pixar
Film review for Disney and Pixar's new animated epic COCO, opening in theatres November 22nd, 2017.

Pixar Animation’s Coco is a creative triumph in numerous ways. While it exemplifies all the qualities of brilliant filmmaking, its greatest accomplishment is the rare success of its versatile attraction. The film is equally captivating to any and all audiences, from preschoolers to great-grandparents.

Both these age groups are featured, too. The adventure focuses on the value of remembering our relatives, both living and those we’ve lost. It’s more than just appropriate for families…it’s designed for them. It’s as approachable and fun for children as it’s thoughtful and engaging for adults.

The characters exude endless love and personality. The colourful landscapes are rich and awe-inspiring. The score and songs are vibrant as they are authentic. And the whole thing is smart, great fun. Best of all, it only gets more exciting and enjoyable as it goes on.

Emotion is used as a cathartic and dramatic tool with expert care. More plainly, writers/directors Lee Unkrich (Toy Story 3) and Adrian Molina have used classic film structures and storytelling devices to make a smartly sentimental movie.

Pixar’s newest film introduces an all-Hispanic cast as the Rivera family in rural Mexico. Comprised of mostly proud shoemakers, 12-year-old Miguel (a knockout debut from Anthony Gonzalez) dreams of being a musician. To begin, he learns guitar, following in the footsteps of his idol Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt.)

 Photo: Buena Vista Pictures
Photo: Buena Vista Pictures

On the annual Dia de Los Muertos holiday (Day of the Dead), he finds himself lost in the land of the remembered. After meeting his lost relatives, he embarks on a quest to return home before sunrise. There’s a great deal more that follows, but it’s hard to describe in more detail without spoiling any of the creative twists.

The adventure focuses on the value of extended families, both living and those we remember. It’s a fascinating plot with adventure, music, humour, and powerful sentiment. But it’s about more than honoring our legacy and ancestors - it’s equally about how we honor the living.

Culture and heritage also play principal characters in the story. but the characters that represent them act with delightful surprise. The country of Mexico itself is known for vibrancy, charm and its dedication to tradition. And that energy is greatly infectious.

However seriously my description of Coco may sound, don’t go in expecting a graduate thesis. That doesn’t suppress any of the dramatic courage or depth the film has, but the tone is fast-paced, warm and inviting.

Pixar Animation is arguably the best-loved studio in Hollywood, with several of the best reviewed and highest grossing movies of all time. Previous classics range from their first feature Toy Story in 1995 to modern classics like Finding Nemo, Up and Inside Out.

All of these movies share two main characteristics. The first is a wide audience appeal, proving great family films are truly designed to entertain everyone. And the second is a commitment to the disciplined crafting of a story with great lessons to be told.

Coco is both of these. It’s wildly creative and emotionally affecting. It is unquestionably the best family movie of the year, and among the best of all kinds. Coco is an unmissable experience that ranks with Pixar’s best. Given their stellar record and archives, that alone says something.


4 out of 4 stars

G, 2hrs 8mins. Animated Family Fantasy Epic.

Written and Directed by Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina.

Starring Anthony Gonzalez, Gael García Bernal, Alanna Ubach, Benjamin Bratt and Gabriel Iglesias.

Now Playing at Cineplex Winston Churchill and Cineplex Oakville & VIP. Opens Friday, November 24th at Film.Ca Cinemas.

Two additional notes for those going to Coco in theatres. First, most screenings begin with a 22-minute short film called Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, based on the inescapable Frozen franchise. It’s slow, unfunny, and ultimately sweet. But it’s especially dull when compared to the main event that follows.

I’d almost recommend skipping it; most shows will actually begin 30-35 minutes after published showtimes. For accurate starts and finishes, arrive early and check at the theatre before the film.

Second, there’s a lovely tribute after the end credits. It was made for relatives of the filmmakers who’ve passed on in a touching way. While short, it’s an enjoyable treat for anyone willing to stay after the credits roll.

Look here for more current movie reviews by Tyler Collins. For breaking movie news and reviews, you can follow him on Twitter at @MrTyCollins.