Coco review: You’ve Got an Ofrenda in Me

 

Mi llamo Roberto y esta es la mejor reseña de “Coco”

 

Given that most of Disney’s big budget projects (Marvel, Lucasfilm) seem to be bland, unoriginal money-grabs at this point, it’s nice to see their animation department (Pixar) still has some heart.

 

Premise

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_qbGJuxCYY

 

Plot

 

After watching Footloose and identifying with the wrong character, a young Mexican boy’s family bans music in their household. Not willing to abide by their puritan values the kid (Miguel) decides to play guitar in secret, learning from tapes of his idol, legendary musician and actor Ernesto de la Cruz. After finding out that Ernesto may have been his great-great-grandfather, Miguel decides to enter in the town talent show (scheduled for Cinco de Mayo), but is stopped when his grandmother smashes his guitar. (Note: this is a subtle reference to her own ambitions of being a rockstar, which were subverted by her family’s hatred of music and desire to expand their Heelys business).

 

Unable to obtain an instrument, Miguel decides to steal one from de la Cruz’s shrine. When townspeople enter the mausoleum, Miguel discovers that he has been transformed into a ghost. He witnesses a bunch of skeletons milling around the various ofrendas (offerings to the dead), before locating the spirits of his own ancestors. They explain to him that they have crossed over to the land of the living for Dia de los Muertos.

 

Miguel follows them back to the land of the dead, where they go through customs. Now I understand that this is a bit, but I did have a few problems with it. Who exactly are the people working as security officers? Do they not have family to cross over to? No one else in the afterlife seems to really hold jobs, so why do they need to work? Also why do they need to check items at the border? Are there like restricted items that you can’t bring with you? Like are weapons and shit banned from the afterlife? I just don’t understand this process. Also, we learn that spirits are only allowed to cross over if they have a picture on someone’s shrine. So what did they do prior to the invention of photography? I guess they could’ve used portraits, but I feel like most poor farmers probably wouldn’t have gotten family portraits commissioned. Did the invention of cheap, accessible photography de-stratify ghost immigration? Sorry I got off track.

 

Anyway, a border agent explains to them that Miguel can travel back to the living if he gets the blessing of his family. Miguel is unable to come to terms with his ancestor’s insistence that he stays away from music, so he runs off in search of Ernesto. On his journey, he encounters Hector, a spirit that claims to know Ernesto personally. After participating in a talent show, the two go off to Ernesto’s tower. (Why this guy has his own personal tower I also don’t really understand. Does wealth exist in the afterlife? Whatever.)

 

They sneak into Ernesto’s party, where Miguel gets his attention by playing some sick tunes. Ernesto parties with him for a bit, before eventually deciding to send him back. Hector comes around and pulls a Meek Mill, exposing himself as the true writer of Ernesto’s biggest hits. A mariachi with a ghostwriter… what the fuck happened? It’s also revealed that Ernesto murdered Hector and stole his music after he tried to quit their band, so uhhh… yeah. Ernesto has the two thrown in an underground cave-prison.

 

Miguel eventually realizes what 90% of the audience already figured out, which is that Hector is his real great-great- grandfather. They get rescued by Miguel’s family, along with their flying lion (flion?). They confront Ernesto about his many, many crimes, at which point he Sparta’s Miguel off a building. Miguel is rescued by flion, who gets him back to his family. Ernesto is publicly exposed as a hack-fraud, before being crushed by a bell (classic Ernesto). Miguel gets sent back to the land of the living.

 

Returning to his house, Miguel plays one of Ernesto’s songs for his great-grandmother, Coco (title drop). She regains lucidity, and gives Miguel a book of poetry that Hector (her father) wrote for her, which contains the lyrics to all of Ernesto’s songs. One year later, Hector receives credit as the true songwriter, and Ernesto’s statue is torn down. The family ofrenda now contains pictures of both Hector and Coco, who passed away during the year.

 

Characters

 

This movie’s characters were very “pixar-esque.” Miguel was a [generic child character] who cared a lot about [relatable thing] but didn’t really care about [positive theme]. He then goes on an [exciting adventure] where he [meets cool sidekicks who help him out] and learns the value of [theme]. So pretty standard stuff.

 

Ernesto was the “initially charming but then cartoonishly evil” villain that was pretty much beat-for-beat Hans from Frozen. While I didn’t necessarily like how abruptly he went from really cool guy to literally the worst person imaginable, I get that this is a kids movie and they wanted to remove any ambiguity. Fuck nuance, amirite?

 

Miguel’s family (both dead and alive), weren’t particularly likable? Especially his grandmother, she was actually pretty toxic. Like I get that everything was good in the end, but the fact that his entire family seemed so opposed to something as innocuous as music felt really forced. Like music kinda contributed to breaking up the family of one of your ancestors, so it’s banned forever? That’s some petty shit right there.

 

Dialogue

 

I was a little disappointed that this movie wasn’t entirely in Spanish with subtitles, but I guess this movie was for kids, and kids can’t read, so I mean, whatever. I did like how they randomly threw Spanish words into sentences, though.

 

Disney also usually does a pretty good job with adding humor to its animations, but honestly this movie wasn’t really funny at all. Like, there were jokes in the script, but most of them didn’t land. There was maybe one time where people in my theater were laughing? Not that I expected this movie to be hilarious, but it felt a bit unusual for Pixar.

 

Tone

 

This movie got weirdly dark in some places. The first time Miguel is telling the story of Ernesto, he talks about how he got crushed to death by a giant bell during a musical performance. Later, the ghost skeletons talk about how they disappear into nothingness when living people no longer remember them. Not to mention the whole “attempted murder” thing at the end. I guess this was a movie about death and the afterlife, so it makes sense that it tackles these topics. Just thought it was a little weird for a kids movie.

 

Near the end, this movie’s tone got really sentimental, but it was kinda beautiful. From when Miguel plays the music for his great-grandmother, it started hitting the “family” chord really hard. Worked pretty damn well, too; this was probably the closest I’ve come to crying in a movie in a long time.

 

Cinematography/Visuals

 

The visuals in this movie were decent, which isn’t surprising given Pixar. I wouldn’t say this movie made leaps and bounds in animation, but it was pretty enough. Rather than using the crisp, precise animation style of a movie like Frozen, they opted for a more cartoony approach. Granted, this was probably ideal given the subject material, as they did a good job of making the skeletons not terrifying. Gotta say, good use of color.

 

I also really liked how they did the beginning exposition, using animation of hanging cloths to tell the character’s backstory. It was a pretty creative way of going about it, and helped reinforce the whole “set in Mexico” part of the story.

 

The only visual element I really had a problem with was the character design of the dog, Dante. I can’t exactly describe what it was about him, but the animation for the character seemed very… off. It was some combination of his elongated body, weird movement, and tongue-flapping that made him kind of hard to look at for me. He’s not in the movie that much, so it didn’t really make a difference, but god was that a weird dog.

 

Sound

 

Usually the music in Disney “musicals” is my least favorite part, but it was easily the best part of this movie. I saw this film getting a lot of praise for using accurate and traditional musical styles of Mexican culture, and while I can’t really comment on the validity of that (je boi don’t know shit about Mexico’s music culture), I can say that it was really good. All of the guitar ballads played were great, and the voice actors (specifically those of Ernesto, Miguel, and Hector), were all fantastic singers. The music in this movie wasn’t as childish as most Disney songs; containing some mature themes and generally lacked stupidly simplistic lyrics. I guess the movie was also devoid of some dumb, easily repeatable mantra that young children and weird adults would latch onto, but I feel like I should just let it go.

 

Conclusion

 

Coco was pretty much an average Pixar film, which is kinda like saying “an average olympic medalist,” or, “an average BodAwfulReview.” While this movie didn’t really create anything new in the way of characters, visuals, or story, the inclusion of Mexican tradition, music, and fairly mature themes made this movie nothing short of fantastic. So I guess you could say…

Image result for im in love with the coco

Alright I’m done.

 

Good for: The C U L T U R E

 

Bad for: Deaf people, racists

 

Bod R8s: 7.2/8

 

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