Catasauqua Press

Monday, September 24, 2018

Movie Review: ‘Coco’

Thursday, December 14, 2017 by Paul Willistein pwillistein@tnonline.com in Focus

“Coco” is an astonishing animation feature film that explores an actual mythology, and one that is atypical for the mainstream cinema.

Who knew that a movie aimed at families and children based on the Mexican holiday of Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead) would be a huge box office hit?

During the national holiday, families gather and pray for family and friends who’ve died, build private altars to them and visit their graves, in order to wish them safe passage in their spiritual journey on “the other side.”

“Coco” builds not unlike most feature animation films, with lots of humor, singing and chases. Unusually, though, the majority of the characters in the film are dead and are portrayed with skulls and skeletons, albeit, talking, walking, dancing, and singing, with many in snazzy outfits no less. The journey of “Coco” leads to an undeniably sweet and emotional ending that will leave you crying tears of joy. It’s hard to explain why, but “Coco” is an undeniable heart-tugger. At the sold-out screening when I saw “Coco,” many in the audience applauded at its conclusion. That’s unusual.

In “Coco,” a 12-year-old boy, Miguel Rivera, somehow ends up in the land of the dead. There, he discovers many things about his family, and befriends his great-great-grandfather, a guitar-strumming singer.

The convoluted plot involves several characters, in conflict, a particular betrayal, plus an outcome, that if revealed here, might spoil your enjoyment of the film. Moreover, your dutiful reviewer is at a loss to recount the carrying-ons on the other side. What sets “Coco,” a Pixar Animation Studios Film, apart is its extraordinary color palette, predominantly orange, pink, green, purple. gold and blue, colors relating to Mexico and its festivals. The film seems to draw (pun intended) authentically from many Mexican traditions, including use of the Mexican marigold during the Day of the Dead, believed to connect the living to the dead.

Co-directors Lee Unkrich (Oscar, animated feature film, “Toy Story 3,” 2010; director, “Toy Story 3,” co-director, “Finding Nemo,” 2003; “Monsters, Inc.,” 2001; “Toy Story 2,” 1999) and Adrian Molina (feature animation film co-directorial debut), working from a screenplay by Molina and Matthew Aldrich and an original story by Unkrich, Molina, Aldrich and Jason Katz, create a nice balance between action scenes and character-driven dialogue.

The voice casting includes: Anthony Gonzalez (Miguel), Gael García Bernal (Hector), Benjamin Bratt (Ernesto de la Cruz), Alanna Ubach (Mamá Imelda), Renée Victor (Abuelita) and Jaime Camil (Papá).

The pacing is helped by the film’s composer Michael Giacchino’s vibrant score and one outstanding song, “Remember Me,” by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez (co-writers, Disney’s “Frozen,” including The Oscar and Grammy-winning “Let It Go”). The fun extends to the Disney theme music, which is played Mexican mariachi style.

The National Board of Review has named “Coco” the best animated film of 2017. You may want to put “Coco” on your holiday season movie list.

“Coco,”MPAA Rated PG (Parental Guidance Suggested Some material may not be suitable for children. Parents urged to give “parental guidance.” May contain some material parents might not like for their young children.) for thematic elements; Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy; Run time: 1 hr., 49 min.; Distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

Credit Readers Anonymous:“Coco” is preceded in most movie theaters by “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure,” a 20-min. Christmas-themed musical take-off of “Frozen” (2013).

Box Office,Dec. 8: It was “Coco” puff again to No. 1 for three weeks in a row, with $18.3 million, $135.5 million, three weeks. “Justice League” again was No. 2 three weeks in a row, with $9.5 million, $212 million, four weeks. “Wonder” was again No. 3 three weeks in a row, with $8.4 million, $100.3 million, four weeks. This will all change with the release of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” “The Disaster Artist,” starring and directed by James Franco about “The Room,” said to be the worst movie ever made, moved up eight places to No. 4 with $6.4 million, $8 million, two weeks. 5. “Thor: Ragnarok” dropped one place, with $6.2 million, $301.2 million, six weeks; 6. “Daddy’s Home 2” was called down one place, with $6 million, $91.1 million, five weeks. 7. “Murder on the Orient Express” steamed down one place, with $5.1 million, $92.7 million, five weeks. 8. “The Star” brightened up one place, with $3.6 million, $32.2 million, four weeks. 9. “Lady Bird” flew down two perches, with $3.5 million, $22.3 million, six weeks. 10. “Just Getting Started,” $3.2 million, opening.

Unreel,Dec. 15:“Star Wars: The Last Jedi,”PG-13: Rian Johnson directs Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Mark Hamill, and Carrie Fisher in the Sci-Fi Action film. Rey teams with Luke Skywalker as they and Leia, Finn and Poe learn the mysteries of the Force.“Ferdinand,”PG: Carlos Saldanha directs the voice talents of Kate McKinnon, Bobby Cannavale, John Cena, and David Tennant in the Animation Comedy feature film. Ferdinand, a bull, is captured and wants to return to his family.

Three Popcorn Boxes out of Five Popcorn Boxes