Coco review: Pixar delivers their first movie of 2018, their first original movie (that isn’t a sequel) since 2015’s A Good Dinosaur.

Coco review by Awais Irfan.

Coco review
Coco review

Whilst their 2017 release, Cars 3, was perhaps a little more lacklustre than we’d expect from Pixar, the studio have a very promising 2018 ahead and, although all eyes are on Summer’s Incredibles 2, their first film of the year isn’t going unnoticed and Coco may just be one of their finest films yet.

The story follows Miguel (voiced by Anthony Gonzalez), a young boy with a talent and passion for music – all he wants to do is play for the world like his idol did, the “greatest musician ever” Ernesto De La Cruz (Benjamin Bratt). But, because of his ancestors’ mistakes and their bad history with music, it has been banned from his family and Miguel is told to forget his dreams and stick to the family business of shoe-making instead. Running away from home to pursue his dream, Miguel finds things quickly going awry when he ends up in the Land of the Dead on Dia de os Muertos and has until sunrise to return to the living. Getting help to return home from a former musician Hector (Gael Garcia Bernal), Miguel not only learns the importance of music and his passion along the way but that of family too.

Coco review
Coco review

Pixar is known for their grandiose stories and worlds, and Coco very much boasts unwavering inventiveness and imagination in this nature too. As we would expect from any Pixar release, the animation is gorgeous and the studio has, yet again, animated this world to breathtaking life. It’s a film that bursts with lavish colour and creativity and it’s visually absorbing – certainly the most beautifully-animated Pixar film yet – but it’s the attention to little details and the nuance seeping through every frame that makes this film so sweeping and gorgeous – it feels so lifelike and real at times; a testament to just how superb the animation work here really is. From Mama Coco’s carefully wrinkled face to the photorealistic streets of Mexico, the detail of the ofrendas to give them their age, the luscious character and creature designs and the vibrant and grandiose musical numbers (which are all excellently delivered, it should be said! And so catchy too!), it’s a world that is stunning but moreover, it’s one that is immersive thanks to the marvellous screenplay and the life director Lee Unkrich has infused his characters and story with.

Related: Cars 3 review

Again, not only is the world so absorbingly realised but the characters are too. The skeletons we meet in the Land of the Dead have such humanity and heart to them; Hector, especially, makes a great companion to Miguel – the pair have such a fun, endearing dynamic that is really exciting to see grow. The precarious Miguel, himself, has such a bubbly youthfulness to him that makes him effortlessly charismatic and there’s so much relatability in his naivety and his passion for music and the young Gonzalez brings such warmth and depth to him through some remarkable vocal work. We are fully invested in Miguel’s journey back home and root for him to succeed and it makes Coco’s emotionally-driven final act hit all the harder – have tissues at the ready because this might be peak Pixar emotion (yes, more so than even Inside Out and Up). But, up until that third act, it’s still such an enjoyable story to be a part of and the film is never short of wonder and ingenuity. At its heart, though, this is a story about family and it’s in this nature that the screenplay really shines; it’s a touching affair, beautifully realised and important for all the younger audiences that will go and see the film too.

Coco review
Coco review

Coco is a masterpiece that has done that rare trick of recapturing that old-school Pixar magic of its early classics. This is a swirling and eclectic adventure unlike anything you will see all year; it’s surprisingly witty too and very unpredictable also and all so carefully and masterfully executed by Unkrich to make for such a rich moviegoing experience. Coco is an awe-inspired delight, beautifully wondrous in its nature and anchored by its heartfelt story and characters. This is Pixar at its finest, and Coco is one of their best films yet… Incredibles 2 has its work cut out for it.

Coco review by Awais Irfan, January 2018.

Coco is released in UK cinemas on Friday 19th January 2018.

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Coco