Last weekend presented a brief drought in terms of film releases, since studios generally like to skip the first part of December for better cash in on holiday promotions. So I decided to see a film that turned some heads a few weeks ago: Disney/Pixar’s new animated film, “Coco.” It is a little outside my element, but seeing “Coco” turned out to be a good decision.
The film follows an aspiring young Mexican boy named Miguel. He desperately wants to become a musician just like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz. However, his family despises music because Miguel’s great-great-grandfather was a musician, and he left his family to pursue his dream of becoming a great musician. Miguel lands in hot water when he tries to perform on Dia de los Muertos and ends up in the “Land of the Dead.” To get back to his family, he goes on a quest across the “Land of the Dead” to find his great-great-grandfather, who can send him back to Earth with his blessing.
It is a simple premise with rewarding emotional appeal and the opportunity to include fantastic music and incredible visuals. The film does a great job tying the story into the music all placed in a vibrant backdrop. The story moves predictably, but overall it is well-written with lovable characters that get you really invested in the film, even if you are as jaded as I am.
The best thing about this film is its attention to detail. Every building, every marigold petal, even the dog’s ridiculously long tongue is intricately hand crafted by expert animators. It is a testament to how great an animation studio Pixar is. I was especially impressed with the guitar chords. Watching a short behind-the-scenes clip reveals that they actually put GoPro cameras on guitars and recorded real musicians playing the pieces in the film, then mapped the animation onto those structures. That would have been really easy to leave out, and almost no one would have noticed or cared. But Pixar is great at making sure the fine details make it into their films.
What I was not impressed with, and quite frankly, despised for its existence, was the twenty minute short shown before the film that included characters from “Frozen.” It was agonizingly long. So long, in fact, that many people in the theater with me checked their tickets to make sure they sat down in the right theater, and had not mistakenly walked through a portal forward in time to whenever “Frozen 2: Elsa’s Revenge” is released.
Seriously. Put it on YouTube next time.
Aside from the insanity-inducing short, “Coco” was a fantastic experience. It celebrates music, family, and Hispanic culture. It will certainly receive a nomination for Best Animated Film at the Academy Awards. With “competition” like “The Emoji Movie,” it is sure to win.