Swanner: In Coco, a boy who wants to become a musician must travel to the land of the dead in search of his musical idol. Once there, he meets many of his family members and they teach him the value of family, and help him solve why the family has a ban on all music. Directors Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina create a beautiful world, taking us inside the Day of the Dead (Dia de Muertos), a celebration where your dead relatives can come back to see you each year.
Judd: Because the movie is about a Mexican boy who wants to become a musician, the music featured in the movie is primarily Mariachi and Boleros music, which I enjoyed quiet a bit. The big name in the movie, for Caucasian Americans at least, are Gael Garcia Bernal and Benjamin Bragg. While watching the film, I could not recognize the voice actors, which was a refreshing change from the obvious “Star Casting” that normally takes place in animated films. I think it helps focus on the characters.
Swanner: That’s a very good point. All the characters are so original because I’m not hearing some star’s inflection create an animated version of themselves. It’s why I always like the old days of voice actors.
I liked the songs as well. They weren’t trying for radio hits, but rather something appropriate. I still don’t know how only Pixar and Disney can make the animation look so sharp and brilliant. This film was definitely a fest for the eyes.
Judd: So while we agree on the music and the look of the film, I have to say that I had a hard time watching the movie. Miguel, the little boy, wants to become a musician, and his family is totally against it, going as far as to destroy his guitar. His great-great-grandmother only agrees to let Miguel return to the land of the living if he promises to stop playing music. To me, the family was as much a villain as the actual villain, and it made it extremely hard for me to empathize with any of them. The movie only manages to reinforce my belief that family is the F word.
Swanner: The movie is not without its lessons. Everyone grows in the film, from the very young to the very old. Remember, people can change if you show them what matters. Like not using the phrase “Family is the F word” in a review about a children’s movie. I loved this movie. From the mean old grandmother’s to the silly merchandisable pets. This the best Pixar for me since Toy Story 3. It completely took me by surprise and I can’t wait to see it again.
Judd: This isn’t one of Pixar’s best, but it’s not one of the worst either. The story and visuals are good, even if the story is a bit predictable and the “good guys” aren’t really that good. The music is great, and it’s nice to have some cultural diversity on the screen.
Swanner: 4 stars
Judd: 3 stars