Thursday 22 February 2018

Coco ★★★★★

You always know exactly where you stand with a Disney film. As soon as you see that magical palace and hear the When You Wish Upon A Star tune, you can be safe in the knowledge that over the next two hours, you will laugh, cry and everything in between. Their latest collaboration with Pixar, Coco, is no exception to this rule. I laughed. I cried. And as the end credits began, I leaned back into my seat and tried to figure out where Coco sat in the Disney rankings. It is definitely in the Top 5. A bold claim, perhaps – but certainly deserved.

Coco tells the story of Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez), a young aspiring musician in Mexico who wants nothing more than to bring people together with music. Inspired by the legendary singer from his hometown, the late Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt), he embarks on a journey to follow in the mighty star’s footsteps – but after attempting to ‘borrow’ de la Cruz’s iconic guitar from his tomb on Día de Muertos, Miguel puts a curse on himself and finds himself lost in the Land of the Dead. He soon finds a friend in Héctor (Gael García Bernal), a charming trickster who is also looking for a way out…

In true Disney fashion, here’s a film based entirely around a culture and setting that will be largely unfamiliar with young children in the UK and US where the film has been enormously successful – but thanks to a respectful and passionate portrayal of this culture, Disney has made it accessible and introduced it to youngsters in an effective way. Coco is quite a good companion piece for Moana – a film which also introduced a different culture to a young audience. Furthermore, both films aren’t at all interested in a romance, but instead, focus on our hero’s inner quest alone. These stories are inspiring for any children with hopes and dreams.

Not only that, but Coco deals heavily with the concept of death and the associated feelings of grief and loss. Handled poorly, this would be a horrible film for children to endure. Handled like this, it is a beautiful experience that teaches children some wonderful messages – why we should honour our ancestors, how, and that we should never be sad because when our loved ones pass away, they live on in the next life. Deep, huh? That’s Disney. They go deep or go home…

As always, Coco is not just for kids. As well as the aforementioned universal themes, there are some great references to historical figures littered throughout - Frida Kahlo, in particular, makes for some amusing comic relief as she plans a performance that involves dancers (dressed as Frida) emerging from a flaming papaya and drinking the tears of a cactus (also dressed as Frida). The Disney humour, as always, never stoops low to juvenile fart jokes – it is funny even to us grown-ups. And if you’re not moved to tears by the last 10 minutes, regardless of your age, then you should book an appointment with your GP because you’re probably dead inside.

Coco is a masterpiece. There is nothing at all wrong with it. Disney have crafted another slice of cinematic perfection for their beautiful catalogue of adventures, and we’re so lucky to be on the receiving end of their output! I saw the film twice in the cinema and found it equally wonderful both times. This is one that can stand comfortably among Toy Story and Up and will stand up to revisits for many years to come. Coco is an unforgettable masterpiece - not just of animation, but of cinema in general.

Sam Love

Coco at CeX

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