Coco (2017)

(Video on-Demand, March 2018) At a time when Pixar seems to have lost its way through endless sequels and Disneyfied substandard offering, it’s good to see Coco demonstrate that they can still deliver capable movies if they want to. While I had concerns that Coco, in tackling a story revolving around the Mexican Day of the Dead, would rethread territory already covered by The Book of Life, it turns out that both movies each have their own sensibilities and strengths—rather than repeating themselves, they would make a splendid double feature. Of course, Coco shows the advantage of having been produced by Pixar’s honed methods and gigantic budgets—the polish of the film is astonishing, its visual density is a wonder, and it’s not afraid to go for strong emotional beats even in a family movie. Some of the plot twists are familiar and predictable, but much of the film’s charm lies in the individual moments, sight gags, character quirks and imaginative detailing of the world of the dead. Music makes for an important part of Coco’s vision, and the result is quite satisfying. Also satisfying is the film’s attention to Mexican culture and how it portrays its best aspects in a way that can inspire others. Considering that it’s a film for kids that deals frankly with death, it’s good to see Pixar take creative risks again—the results are spectacular.

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