It’s rare to see an animated film pay tribute to a famously proud aspect of a country or culture, but Coco accomplishes exactly that in a beautiful and family-friendly way.

‘Coco’ Blu-Ray Review

Disney Pixar’s latest flick tells the story of a young Mexican boy named Miguel Rivera, (newcomer Anthony Gonzalez) an aspiring musician whose family lives in the fictional town of Santa Cecilia and has owned a shoemaking business for generations.

Unfortunately for Miguel, the Riveras abhor music because of an ancient tale that states one of his ancestors was a greedy musician who hurt his own family. Despite this, Miguel is determined to follow his dreams and meet the beloved legendary Mexican musician Ernesto de la Cruz, (Benjamin Bratt) whom Miguel believes may be his great-great-grandfather.

Armed with nothing but a guitar and a heart filled with hope — and a loyal but rowdy hairless dog named Dante —Miguel sets off to find de la Cruz on Dia de los Muertos, Mexico’s Day of the Dead celebration of each family’s ancestors. Unexpectedly joining Miguel on his journey is Hector, (Gael Garcia Bernal of Mozart in the Jungle) a well-meaning trickster who is one of the many skeletons the youngster encounters along the way.

Director Lee Unkrich and co-director Adrian Molina deliver one of Disney’s greatest films in Coco, a story that beautifully portrays Mexican culture and particularly one of their most unique holidays. From the well-adorned ofrendas (shrines with offerings) for deceased family members to alebrijes (polychromatic folk art sculptures of mythical creatures) to the well-placed humor, Coco shows Mexico in a very positive light compared to the horror of drug cartels and other violence and misery frequently associated with the nation and that is shown in many documentaries or crime drama films like Sicario or Man on Fire. 

Further adding to Coco’s beauty is a lively soundtrack full of original tunes, as well as a score that repeatedly shifts from upbeat to morose and nerve-wracking. Add the insertion of contemporary Mexican slang and other colloquialisms, and the film is as authentic as an animated feature can be. The name of the film refers to the nickname given to Miguel’s great-grandmother Socorro, a character central to the story.

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A plot twist near the end will also surprise some viewers, and the story concludes in such a delightfully entertaining way that the final scenes — much like the rest of the movie — will remain lodged in your memory long after the credits roll.

Blu-ray special features for the film — which has already won the Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Film, and is nominated at the Academy Awards in the same category and for Best Original Song (“Remember Me”) — include a Commentary, deleted scenes, a featurette on the music of the film, and “Paths to Pixar: Coco.

There is no doubt that Pixar will continue to make beautiful films given the power of films like this one.

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