Review: Coco (2017)

Written and Directed by Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina

UK Release Date: 19th January 2018

Feature Running Time: 105 minutes

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Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez) dreams of being an aspired musician like his great, great grandfather one day. But with his family’s strict intolerance towards music, this becomes merely a daydream for him. This all changes though when he decides to ‘temporarily borrow’ his grandfather’s sacred guitar, something that comes with a great cost…

The most important thing you need to know about the next feature release from Disney Pixar, is that if it’s directed by Lee Unkrich then you know you’re in the safest hands. You just need to do a quick IMDB search of his filmography to know what I’m going on about. Before Coco, he helmed Toy Story 3, the greatest entry in that franchise so far, and at the time, the perfect way to bring (what we originally thought was going to be a trilogy) to a satisfying finale. He also co-directed Finding Nemo and Monsters Inc. So pretty much the main draws with Pixar, and just some of their biggest masterpieces to date.

I’m really happy to report back to you guys, that Coco can proudly stand high and tall in adding itself to that amazing batch as well. And God knows, after the really pointless and tiresome third entry in their Cars trilogy, Pixar really did need to step up their game again. And boy, did they!

The central theme of families and the importance of loved ones, is one of the strongest recurring universal themes that Unkrich loves to explore. In both Monsters Inc and Finding Nemo, there has repeatedly been a deep focus emphasised on the binding relationship between parent and child, the parent being one that is so overprotective of their adolescent offspring. But that focus has never been more exquisitely potent than it is here.

Miguel is a kid who’s destiny, he feels, is to become one of the greatest musicians in the world just like his family ancestors before him. But with parents who wish for him to make a career, working in the family shoe making business, and a disapproving grandmother who has put a permanent family ban on everything that is related to music and singing, Miguel feels stuck in a rut as a juvenile facing his first big bout of teenage angst; feeling forced to conform to his family way of life instead of realising his full potential as a musical artist.

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Feeling angry and upset with contempt, Miguel decides to sneak out of the family household anyway to demonstrate his talents at the Day of The Dead festival, and takes it upon himself to borrow his great, great grandfather’s legendary guitar for a short while. The one thing he least expected to happen though was to be accused of stealing, as this one committed act whisks him away to the land of the dead.

Here he meets Hector, (Gael Garcia Bernal) a charming and likeable trickster, who desperately wants to get back to the land of the living, so he can see his daughter one last time before he is totally forgotten while stuck in limbo. He agrees to help Miguel unlock the mysteries of his family history in return that he can get him to successfully pass the border that stand between both the land of the living and the dead.
Coco is a film that says a lot about important life lessons, about the binding family ties, as well as life, and especially death. It’s sad, touching, amusing and absolutely breathtaking all at the same time.

Both Unkrich and Molina have done a fine job reminding us why family comes first before anything else, and the lengths one family member would go to show how much all of their closest loved ones mean to him/her.
The film is incredibly uplifting, with one particular scene that got me totally choked up. It takes an awful lot for a film to have that kind of effect on me, as I am a person who’s usually made of stone, but there are moments in this that I can really relate to, moments that really drive home for me.

Pixar’s Coco isn’t a film that has managed to beat my unconditional love for The Incredibles, but neither has it prevented it from being another top class masterpiece. Watch it and let it make you feel all the different range of deep emotions. Absolutely will soar anyone’s spirits.

The Movie Nerd’s Film Rating: 5 out of 5.

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