January is terrible isn’t it? It’s dull, grey and it rains. Endlessly. If only there was a new animated flick, bursting with colours, vibrancy and soulful music… ? Luckily for us, Disney in all their omniscient kindness have delivered us Coco. Pixar’s 19th film is the studio’s first original feature since the underwhelming The Good Dinosaur from 2015, and provides us with their first steps towards representational diversity. While there could be accusations of similarity to 2015’s The Book of Life, Coco pulls out some highly original tricks to tell its story, following aspiring musician Miguel (voiced by Anthony Gonzalez) who – confronted with his family’s ancestral ban on music – enters the Land of the Dead to find his great-great-grandfather, legendary singer Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt).
Our Joni celebrated Coco as “vibrant and vivacious,” and praised Pixar’s positive forward strides towards telling new stories with one that is “moving, amusing and downright grooving”. Ultimately, “Coco stands out in the Pixar pantheon as their first truly diverse feature.” Will the rest of the team agree with Coco‘s 4-star verdict? Only one way to find out!
Jack – 4/5
Though it may not reach the very highest tiers of the Pixar pantheon, Coco is still a major entry into the studio’s canon, and one we needed after the duo of sequels delivered in Finding Dory and Cars 3. The Land of the Dead is marvellously realised, a real joy and wonder to behold, bursting with colour and, funnily enough, life. Coco saves its real power for its final third, leaving the first two acts feeling a little slight, but once it gets there it’s impossible to not be profoundly moved by its ode to music, family, and Mexican culture.
Naomi – 4/5
Disney have (as everyone in the English-speaking world knows) always been strong and engaging storytellers – and Coco is no exception. Fascinating, inclusive and with incredible visuals, the film pays tribute to a culture we have rarely seen in mainstream Hollywood. You have to wonder if the film’s concept, dark as it is, is one that children will be able to fully grasp. Raising questions around death and familial acceptance, it may, at times, be a hard watch for the very young. If nothing else though, there’s definitely something here for the adults – something sentimental, funny, and utterly watchable.
Kambole – 4/5
With Disney’s various strands aligning themselves more towards stories about people of colour, this film is further proof that even the simplest stories in American cinema are enriched by diversity. Coco is a delight: visually spectacular and featuring, as always, emotionally devastating work from Pixar. While the plot takes a little while to take off and the central conflict between Miguel and his family feels like something of a stretch, the emotional payoff is powerful, and not entirely unearned. The songs are great, the Land of the Dead looks magical, and I had to wipe away a lot of tears.
Steph – 4/5
Pixar are pulling out all the stops again with their magical and family-driven adventures around the Day of the Dead. We follow Miguel through the Land of the Dead in a rather gentle, enjoyable manner for much of the film, and it’s only in the final act that the plot and emotion really kick into gear. This is a truly beautiful film, both visually and in terms of the subject material, that all ages will want to sing along to.
Phil – 4/5
Pixar has done it again. The studio’s take on the Mexican Día de los Muertos is every bit as sumptuous a visual feast as you might expect. Every frame is bursting with colour and – wonderfully and perhaps confusingly for us non-Mexican audiences – life.
But this is no mere set-dressing or act of tokenism. Coco is never less than sincere in its depiction of Mexican culture, with a moving message about the importance of heritage and memory; like the opening of Up, its final moments could reduce the stoniest of hearts to a quivering lump of feels.
Thom – 4/5
In a way that no other filmmakers could, Pixar’s meditation on mortality comes in shimmering, kaleidoscoping colour and hums with the thrilling sound of mariachi. Set during Mexican Day of the Dead celebrations, we’re introduced to characters we’ve become used to seeing from previous stories – the precocious child, the comedic pet – but this is the studio’s weirdest, most original feature to date: a risk that pays off in dividends. Coco takes the emotion of Up’s opening five minutes and stretches it across its hundred-minute runtime, gifting viewers with one of the most life-affirming stories committed to animation in years.
Rachel – 4/5
Coco’s plot may be somewhat wrinkly – there are false climaxes that could have been ironed out – but it certainly delivers on an emotional level. Miguel is an infectiously compelling and sympathetic protagonist, and the story ambitiously combines themes of familial and cultural heritage, ambition versus expectation, and even a sort of McGuffin-whodunit plot. It’s almost too much, but the note-perfect final act is Pixar’s most wonderful heartstring-tugging work in years. Formal flaws are all but superseded by the conclusion’s beauty, and in the age of Trump it’s joyous to see an American film focus so lovingly on a Mexican family.
It seems Joni was right on the money! A deserved four out of five for Pixar’s latest. What would you give it? Let us know!