Miguel Rivera (Anthony Gonzalez) is an aspiring musician, who is very talented with a guitar, but he has never performed for anyone. This is because his family hate music and have done everything within their power to ban it so that the music is never heard by the Rivera family. This is because Miguel’s great-grandfather left his family to peruse his music career. Miguel, however, rebels against this rule, steals the guitar of the legendary Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt) and finds himself in the Land of the Dead having stolen the property of a dead person.
In the Land of the Dead Miguel meets his deceased family, but he can’t stay there for long as he must get back before the sun rises, failure would leave him in the Land of the Dead forever. To leave the Land of the Dead he must get the blessing of his family, but they have a condition to which Miguel does not agree with (the condition being Miguel never to play music). Thus Miguel looks to find Ernesto de la Cruz (who just happens to be the very same great-grandfather who walked out on his family) to give him his blessing without the unacceptable condition of never being a musician.
In 2015 Disney Pixar decided that it wished to tell more diverse stories in a bid to more closely match the racial diversity of the people who watch their films. Two years later, Cars 3 made a step in the right direction and, in the same year, Pixar released Coco, a film with an all Latino cast (the first with nine figure budget). Coco has been credited with treating Mexican culture with respect, in turn Mexicans responded to the film by breaking the country’s cinema attendance records. It’s a positive because the exploration of a different culture adds a touch of verity to Pixar’s back catalogue which mostly focused entirely on a white American household.
Coco finds itself comfortably within Pixar’s finest work in terms of where it’s fits within the studio’s previous works. Coco’s animation is certainly among the best the studio has ever made. There is a plethora of brilliant colour, especially when Miguel finds himself in the Land of the Dead. It’s in the Land of the Dead where colour is at its most resplendent with the vast city and abundance of Orange providing much to marvel at. There’s even a touch of Hayao Miyazaki with its aspects of surrealism and matter of fact treatment of the dead.
Pixar has always excelled at creating gloriously animated features (they did create the first entirely computer animated movie) as well as creating stories that are emotionally resonate and connect with the audience. They never fail to leave the story dwarfed by the stunning visuals and Coco’s story about following your passion and the importance of family resonate powerfully with the audience, ensuring there won’t be too many dry eyes in the theatre.
Whilst the film, overall, could have been funnier the story’s simple but effective power makes that minor quibble.