January 29, 2018

Coco (2017)

Anthony Gonzalez, Gael Garcia Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Alanna Ubach, et al

A few years ago I ragged on The Book of Life for not being Mexican enough. Despite the Dia de los Muertos theme, the colors, etc etc etc, it felt like a shallow interpretation of Mexican culture. Coco felt like redemption. (Yes, I realize it's a different studio making it.)

This movie is Mexico. (Don't worry, I approved this statement from an actual Mexican.) It is absolutely dripping with all the right details--the music, the costumes, the historical figures, the way families interact, even the Spanish slang! And when I say details, I mean details. The old movies of Ernesto de la Cruz even have famous Mexican actors drawn into their backgrounds. Every voice actor is Latino (minus John Ratzenberger, but they obviously had to work him in somewhere). Basically, no Channing Tatum or Ice Cube here.

But going in, I knew Pixar would nail the details. They always do. What I was worried about was being disappointed in yet another Dia de los Muertos story (do people not know anything else about Mexican culture?!?) that had been overhyped by people impressed by any movie not named The Emoji Movie. Maybe I have too little faith in people.

This movie was incredible.

It is everything a movie should be, animated or not. It transitions beautifully between funny and sad, heartfelt and fun. The musical interludes (while I'll admit, were not my favorite part despite being sort of the basis for the movie--I wish at least some of them had been in Spanish) all made sense, timing wise, and didn't drag. And the voices were perfect. I'll say it again: perfect. The accents were all spot on and not one voice was recognizable enough to detract from the story. Perfection! (A special shout out to Anthony Gonzalez, who is my new favorite child actor because of this movie.)

I will say, as one small caveat, that this movie was a little darker than most Pixar movies. It's not just the skeletons, but the message about dying and being forgotten is pretty depressing, especially for those of us nearing middle-age. (Wah!!!)

Final word: It really is as good as everyone claims it is.

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