21st May2018

‘Coco’ Blu-ray Review

by Matthew Turner

Stars: Anthony Gonzalez, Gael García Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Alanna Ubach, Jaime Camil, Alfonso Arau, Sofía Espinosa, Edward James Olmos | Written by Adrian Molina, Matthew Aldrich | Directed by Lee Unkrich, Adrian Molina

coco-blu-cover

Having explored the inner workings of human consciousness in Inside Out, the animation geniuses at Pixar turn their collective imaginations to the land of the dead in their latest offering, co-directed by Lee Unkrich (Toy Story 3) and Adrian Molina. The result is Coco, a beautifully animated piece of work that has something genuinely moving to say about death, grief, memory and family, without ever feeling too sentimental.

The hero of the story is 12 year-old Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez), a young Mexican boy who dreams of becoming a singer. There’s just one problem: his grandmother Imelda (Renée Victor) enforces a strict musical ban on his shoe-making family, because Miguel’s great-great-grandfather abandoned his wife and child – Miguel’s now ancient great grandmother, Coco (Ana Ofelia Murguía) – in order to chase his dreams of musical stardom.

On the morning of the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) festival, Miguel steals a guitar from the mausoleum of his superstar musical idol, Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt) and finds himself magically transported to the Land of the Dead. There he meets his skeletal ancestors and learns that needs to seek their forgiveness and blessing in order to return home, before he’s trapped in the Land of the Dead forever.

It’s no surprise that Mexican audiences embraced Coco so warmly (it quickly became the country’s biggest ever box office success), as the film is steeped in authentic Mexican culture, with a level of detail that is simply breath-taking. To that end, the animation utterly gorgeous, combining glorious colour and photo-realistic backgrounds to jaw-dropping effect, not least on the marigold bridge that connects the two worlds.

Pixar’s commitment to Mexican culture extends to an excellent all-Latino voice cast, with perennial Pixar good-luck charm John Ratzenberger the sole exception. Gonzalez, in particular, is a real find, while Bratt is superb as the egotistical superstar and there’s strong work from Gael Garcia Bernal as Hector, a fading con artist who agrees to help Miguel find his great-great-grandfather.

That said, the supporting honours belong to the film’s only non-speaking role, in the form of Dante, Miguel’s dopey canine companion, who manages to be both cute and ugly at the same time and comfortably steals the film’s biggest laughs.

Given the importance of music to the central plot, this is a decidedly more tuneful Pixar offering than usual, with songs from the Frozen duo of Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez. One number in particular, “Remember Me” has a key part to play in the film, so we get several versions of it, at least one of which is guaranteed to provoke the time-honoured Pixar tears. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

The complex plot may be a little ramshackle in places and the film isn’t quite as funny as previous Pixar movies, but Coco still manages to surprise you with the depth of its emotion and its profoundly moving messages about family, memory, creativity and the way those things come together. It also explores sophisticated ideas of grief, loss and death in a way that small children can understand, without them (hopefully) being upset or scared in the process.

Special Features on the Coco Blu-ray include: Welcome To The Fiesta; Mi Familia; Dante; How To Draw A Skeleton; and Audio Commentary. The film is out now on DVD and Blu-ray from Disney.

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