Review: Coco (2017)

Coco is exactly what Pixar Animation Studios does best. This film is Pixar’s first original story since The Good Dinosaur and Inside Out in 2015, and will be the last one we get during the 2010s. Pixar’s original movies have given us stories like Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Wall-E, and Up, some of the most creative, magical, and wonderful stories ever told on film. Coco continues the tradition, being perhaps the most beautiful Pixar film to date. And while it’s a shame we won’t get any more non-sequels from Pixar this decade, Coco is more than good enough to hold us until the 2020s.

It’s hard to grasp just how incredible this shot is

Coco tells the story of a little boy named Miguel, who has a dream to be a musician. His family, however, thinks music is a curse, and forbids Miguel to play music, listen to music, or be around any music at all. After Miguel discovers he might be related to the great musician Ernesto de la Cruz, he is determined to play music, and steals Ernesto de la Cruz’s guitar so he can play. Something magical happens, and Miguel and his dog finds themselves stuck in the land of the dead. After meeting some of his ancestors, Miguel teams up with Hector, an outcast, to go on a search for Ernesto de la Cruz to receive his blessing and return to the living world.

The first thing that has to be noted about Coco is that it is Pixar’s most beautiful movie yet, which is saying something. Following a Frozen-themed not-so-short film, there’s a brief intro where the film’s directors and a producer thank people for coming to the theater and break down one of the movie’s most impressive shots. This brief info-bit is just a glimpse into the incredible work that was put into the amazing animation in this movie. Coco now holds the record for longest production schedule of a Pixar film, as people have been working on this movie since 2011. The final product of all that work in mind-blowing. This movie’s visuals are truly amazing, both the visuals and the animated cinematography. It’s hard to grasp just how brilliant this movie is visually, which is just one of the many reasons I intend to watch this movie many more times in my life. I can’t wait until I can buy this DVD.

There’s a scene with these two characters that I’ll forever remember

The second thing that must be noted about Coco is its music. Coco isn’t a musical in a strict sense; the characters don’t randomly break out into song. They do, however, logically break into song, as music is a major element of the story. This music is immensely engaging, often very beautiful, and is even fun a lot of the time. Germaine Franco is responsible for the majority of the songs in the film, and will surely find herself nominated for an Oscar. Frozen’s Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez wrote the central song of the film, “Remember Me,” and it’s fantastic. But probably the one who deserves the most respect for music is Michael Giacchino, who composed the film’s instrumental score. Giacchino’s music is effectively immersive, appropriately magical, and amazingly beautiful. The music in this movie is just awesome.

You’re gonna fall in love with guitar music after watching this movie

The third thing I have to recognize in this review is the film’s message and the resulting emotions. Music is of course a main theme in the film, but the central message is centered around family. This is a common theme in animated films, but Coco does it better than any film I’ve seen before. It is with this message that the film reaches its emotional climax, which is, in my opinion, the single best scene of any film I’ve seen this year. This scene takes the message of the importance of family, throws in one on the power of music, and utilizes a beautiful lullaby, some brilliant animation, and directing to create one of he most powerful moments I’ve ever experienced in a movie. For some, this moment will hit home. For others it will be a moment to pay attention. But for nearly everyone, myself included, it will be a moment that you cry. Just warning you now.

It will require a couple more viewings for Coco to become one of my favorite Pixar films of all time, but it’s well on its way. Wall-E, The Incredibles, Up, and Inside Out are just too good to be compared to right away. That said, after watching the movie I just watched, I can confidently say that Coco is one of the best animated films of all time. I am most definitely going to rewatch this movie as soon as I can because there are so many reasons that it is just so good.

I give Coco an 8.7/10.