February 24, 2018

Digital Review: COCO

Featuring the voices of Anthony Gonzalez, Gael Garcia Bernal, Alanna Ubach, Renee Victor, Ana Ofelia Murguia, Edward James Olmos, Alfonso Arau. Directed by Lee Unkrich & Adrian Molina. (2017/105 min).

Like all Pixar movies, my family and I went to see Coco in a theater during its opening weekend. They're pretty-much the only movies all four of us can agree are always worth catching on the big screen. Some are better than others, of course, but at the very least, we've never left the theater two hours later feeling ripped off (except maybe Cars 2). It took only a single scene in Coco to reaffirm why.

Early in the film, when 9-year-old Miguel crosses-over into the mythical Land of the Dead, the transition from his humble Mexican village to the massive, spectacularly-colored metropolis is nothing short of breathtaking. This endless, towering city - bustling with life, so to speak - makes Blade Runner's Los Angeles look like a deserted truck stop. The last time I was this awestruck by a single shot was when the dinosaurs first appear in Jurassic Park.

"You've got a hell of a lot to learn about rock...and...rolllll!"
We spend most of the film in this world, which is a continuous feast for the eyes, like one of those intricate paintings that you could stare for hours and still not catch all the details. Predictably, some of Coco's visual impact is somewhat diminished on a smaller screen. If you didn't catch it in theaters, sorry, you really missed out.

But even in your living room, Coco is Pixar's most visually imaginative movie since WALL-E and its most emotionally satisfying since Inside Out, with a sweet story, charming characters, terrific music and obvious reverence for the culture it depicts. And if your aren't just a little bit misty by the time the end credits roll, there just might be something wrong with you.

In an era when Pixar increasingly dips back into the well to churn out unnecessary sequels, Coco is one of their more refreshingly original movies in a long time. It's best experienced on the big screen, but remains colorful, funny and poignant all the same.

"Mi Familia" - Several Latin crew members discuss their own experiences making the film and how it relates to them personally;
"Dante" - Inspiration and creation of Miguel's canine sidekick;
"You Got the Part" - The heartwarming way Anthony Gonzalez learns he's been cast as the lead character;
"A Thousand Pictures a Day" - In the longest of the featurettes, this covers the crew's visit to Mexico for inspiration;
OTHER FEATURETTES: "The Music of Coco"; "How to Draw a Skeleton"; "Fashion Through the Ages"; "The Real Guitar"; "How to Make Papel Picado" (Mexican paper decorations);
SHORT: "Welcome to the Fiesta" - with optional commentary
AUDIO COMMENTARY - By directors Lee Unkrich & Adrian Molina producer Darla Anderson
MUSIC VIDEO: "Remember Me" by Natalia Lafourcade & Miguel

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