Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina's COCO
Movie review by Dennis D.McDonald
I need to re-do my "best ten films I've seen in 2017" list and add COCO.
Having long been an animation and Pixar fan I must say that COCO is exceptional, even by Pixar standards. The breadth of imagination, art, and emotion on display put to shame the fart-joke kiddy cartoons previewed last night along with the over-long Frozen mini-movie. The latter is cute and funny but has the emotional depth of a Hallmark card when compared with COCO.
I'll leave it to my Mexican-American family members to say whether the Mexican culture portrayed in COCO is accurate. The Pixar team has pulled off what probably appeared at one time to be impossible: make a heartwarming family-oriented cartoon about death that is populated by a cast of thousands -- of skeletons. Add in slapstick, eye-popping color, astonishing visuals, great music, family conflict, plot twists, action, and heartfelt emotion.
About that "heartfelt emotion" thing; other reviewers have already reported on COCO's focus on "family."
That's very true. The family bonds theme runs through the movie and culminates in one of Pixar's trademarked music-suffused tear-inducing sequences. By the time this rolls around the audience is ready and the simple rightness of this sequence and how it integrates emotional plot elements is nearly perfect.
After the movie I came away thinking, what films would I compare this with?
- From a Pixar perspective I would place COCO in terms of imaginative world-building on the same level as, if not superior to, Inside/Out and Wall-E.
- In terms of "live-action" fantasy and science fiction films I would compare this with James Cameron's AVATAR.
Another nice touch: the version I saw (in Alexandria Virginia) had Spanish subtitles.
COCO is a movie worth seeing.
Review copyright (c) 2017 by Dennis D. McDonald