COCO (2017)

Genre: Supernatural/Thriller
Director: Lee Unkrich, Adrian Molina
Cast: Gael García Bernal, Anthony Gonzalez, Benjamin Bratt, Renée Victor
Runtime: 1 hr 49 mins
Rating: PG
Released By: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Official Website:

Opening Day: 23 November 2017

Synopsis: In Disney Pixar's "Coco," aspiring musician Miguel (voice of newcomer Anthony Gonzalez) teams up with charming trickster Hector (voice of Gael Garcia Bernal) on an extraordinary journey through the Land of the Dead.

Movie Review:

It is almost impossible for a film from Pixar Animation Studios to disappoint - even the somewhat bland Cars 2 (thankfully, Cars 3 brought the franchise back on track) is better than the countless mediocre animated movies out there.

This 19th title from Pixar is again proof that the animation giant is the best in the industry. The movie is also the first ever production with a nine digit budget (between $175 to $200 million) to feature an all Latino cast.

Based on an original idea by Lee Unkrich (Toy Story 3), the concept of the film is based on the Mexican holiday of the Day of the Dead. Directed by Unkrich and co-directed by Adrian Molina (a screenwriter who has worked on Monsters University and The Good Dinosaur), the film’s protagonist is a 12 year old boy (adorably animated, of course) who accidentally gets transported to the land of the dead (bring on the skeletons, colourful backdrops and jolly music!) where hunts down his musician great great grandfather (deceased, definitely) to return him to the human world. Amidst the misadventures, there is a heartwarming message of family and remembering.

You may remember Jorge Gutierrez’s The Book of Life (2014), which was also based on the Day of the Dead. Before you think one is a rip off of another, let it be known that while both movies use aesthetically similar styles (Mexican culture, bright colours, ethnic songs), the movie starring the voices of Diego Luna (Rogue One), Zoe Saldana (My Little Pony: The Movie) and Channing Tatum (Logan Lucky) focuses on bravery and confronting fears while the Pixar film has a screenplay that explores family.

In this 109 minute movie, Anthony Gonzalez voices the main character with much charm as he travels to the land of the dead for a journey he’d never forget. The aspiring musician meets a trickster (voiced by Babel’s Gael Garcia Barnael) and a famous musician (voiced by The Infiltrator’s Benjamin Bratt). Through Pixar’s masterful storytelling, the tale unfolds into a heartfelt account of the importance of family. Alanna Ubach, Renée Victor, Edward James Olmos and Alfonso Arau provide the voices of supporting characters.

By exploring a world that is beyond ours, the film goes beyond the usual standards of family movies. The story is well written (the multi layered script is poignantly thoughtful), the cinematography by Matt Aspbury and Danielle Feinberg is a visual treat, and the music by the ever reliable Michael Giacchino (Zootopia) is richly textured.

It is no wonder that the movie has set a box office record in Mexico with $56 million following a late October launch ahead of the Day of the Dead holiday. It will obviously perform well at the international box office and garner countless accolades during the award season.

We don’t often see movies that affectingly deal with life and death, much more an animated one. There is much to learn and reflect after the end credits roll. Respectful to the Mexican culture, this film is a dazzling and admirable production that is a must watch.   

Movie Rating:

(A family friendly film that explores the importance of family and more affectingly, life and death)

Review by John Li

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