Pixar rejuvenate their reputation after a decade of predictable sequels. Covering life, death and two worlds, Coco is as beautiful as it is challenging and a surprising shift in taste from a company that have made more than just a kids movie. They’ve made a movie that had me, and every other 21 year old politics student in the room, crying my eyes dry.
Doomed for a life as a shoemaker in a family previously torn apart by music, Young Miguel is cursed and sent to the afterlife after trying to steal his ancestor’s guitar. To free him from the curse he must seek a blessing from his very famous and very dead great great grandfather, Ernesto, from the Land of the Dead. And so the quest begins, aided by his new skeletal buddy Héctor, who plays the clumsy underdog, needing Miguel to place his picture on the shelf to be remembered in the Land of the Living. They have until sunrise to save each other.
After some clunky preposition we’re immersed in the Land of the Dead, one of the most gorgeous worlds in Pixar’s canon; full of glow and wonderful old-time extravagance. When you enter the Land of the Dead there’s knockout shot where over seven million lights were used to illuminate the skeletal metropolis. Its style is underpinned with a relationship with its music that carries the story rather than just elevating it; the songwriters from Frozen were hired but (thankfully) weren’t given priority.
It’s a classic quest tale that’s reminiscent of most Pixar movies, but manages to tackle themes that would be heavy in an adult film. Death permeates throughout; most characters are dead and the main one is dying, while Coco, Miguel’s great grandma, suffers from crippling Dementia. Despite the dark themes, Coco manages a sensitivity that’s been missing since Up and we were all weeping by the end of it. Coco has depth and challenges the approach to the Kids movie genre; life, death, family and culture all digested to a final act that oozes every cranny of that childlike wonder that never leaves you.
If the opening of Up had you needing some tissues, you’ll need the whole box for Coco.