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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Nov 27, 2017

Coco Movie Review: 2017's Best Animated Picture That Touches The Heart With Wonderful Message About The Importance Of Family

THE NEW animated movie from Disney-Pixar, “Coco”, is a shoo in for the best animated picture in next year’s Oscars. It is beautifully crafted and the story really touches the heart. The lead character and narrator is Miguel (voice by Anthony Gonzales), a boy whose biggest passion is music, but he has to suppress it as his family has banned music in their home after their grandfather, a singer-songwriter, abandoned them in favor of his own career to pursue stardom.

The movie is family friendly and we saw it with our children, grandchildren and we all enjoyed it, including the animated short film that precedes it, “Olaf’s Frozen Christmas”, which is a real big treat for fans of Elsa and Anna, like my granddaughter.

Set in Mexico on the Day of the Dead when the spirits of dead people can visit their relatives here on earth, Director Lee Unkrich (“Finding Nemo”, “Toy Story 2 & 3”, “Monsters Inc.”) gets to please both young and old viewers alike combining fantastic elements with mature themes about family and forgiveness. Songs are incorporated in the music-themed film and they get to hit the right notes.

Miguel tries to follow his dream by joining a music competition and he tries to steal the guitar of his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz, who he thinks is his great, great grandpa. But this lands him into trouble when he ends up in the land of the dead where he meets talking skeletons. A skeleton asks his help so his loved ones on earth won’t forget him. This is Hector (voice by Gael Garcia Bernal), who turns out to play a very vital part in the story.

Miguel also gets to meet many of his ancestors, including Mama Imelda, the wife of his grandpa who was abandoned and is very bitter about it. Miguel should obtain the blessing of a dead relative so he can return to the land of living, otherwise he’ll remain trapped in the land of the dead forever. To do this, he embarks on an unforgettable adventure of a lifetime and also uncovers a mystery, with the help of lovable animal sidekicks as spirit guides.

The good-hearted Miguel is an adorable protagonist and the surprise villain (we won’t say who) is appropriately repulsive and gets the punishment he surely deserves. As to why the film is titled “Coco”, we also won’t reveal to you but the climax involving Coco and her memories will surely tug at your heartstrings. The twist in the narrative is truly quite inspired.

The emotional aspects of the story, especially the bond that develops between Miguel and Hector, are presented with poignancy that will no doubt move audiences. For kid viewers, death is portrayed not as something tragic and scary but just a transition into another world where the memory of loved ones who are left behind play an important role.

The animation is so vivid, like the silent grandmother on the verge of Alzheimer sporting the pleats and wrinkles of her advanced age, Miguel’s abuelita as a fiery spitfire who hits people with her slippers, and Miguel’s dog Dante as a hairless pet with a very long tongue. The texture, the designs (including the skeletons) are all impressive, often recalling Mexican art. All in all, it’s a great animated film that presents a supernatural fairy tale about the importance of family while celebrating life and honoring those who have gone ahead of us to the great beyond.