Disney Pixar’s Coco follows Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez), a young aspiring musician who comes from a family of cobblers with a 95-year-long ban on music. After attempting to steal the guitar of his idol and famed musician, Ernesto de la Cruz, on Día de los Muertos, Miguel finds himself in the Land of The Dead, a colorful world filled with skeleton versions of the deceased. The plot becomes a race against the clock as Miguel must get back to the land of the living before sunrise. Along the way, he meets up with his ancestors, learns the identity of his shunned grandfather and learns to appreciate the stories of those who came before him.
The most striking thing about Coco is its impeccable animation. The dimension and detail packed into every frame is truly awe-inspiring. The scenes that take place in a fictional Mexican village are stunning and because the animation is so lifelike, the layer of magic added to each scene becomes even more enchanting. Pixar’s ability to keep pushing the limits of animation is partly what keeps audiences in theaters. However, the scenery in the Land of the Dead seems to forgo detail for pure color. Instead of building a new world with depth, the landscape is merely a backdrop for the story. Everything feels surface level. The Land of the Dead looks like a sad amusement park version, lacking the layers and texture featured in some of Pixar’s greatest hits.
Pixar audiences come for the animation but stay for the emotionally affecting stories and Coco is no exception. While not the most intricate plot, Coco hits the right emotional moments when needed. Many of the big plot points throughout the movie were clearly telegraphed. However, the movie remains entertaining despite this predictability. The side characters are whimsical and the music is engaging because Miguel’s quest back home is just an excuse to explore the familiar themes of family and memory. Coco is preoccupied with what happens when our stories stop being told (In the Land of the Dead, if you are totally forgotten by those in the living you face “the final death”). The movie tries to answer this question by putting the power in its relationships. The bond formed between Miguel and his guide, Héctor (Gael García Bernal) is genuinely heartwarming to watch blossom. Because of their friendship, Miguel learns how to appreciate his family and his ancestors despite his ambition.
Coco is a product of Disney/Pixar’s well-oiled machine. The near perfected style of animation combined with an affecting, albeit formulaic, plot is a winning combo that will have you sitting in awe of the feats of animation before you one minute and reminding yourself to call your grandparents and tearing up the next.