Review: Disney/Pixar’s ‘Coco’ is animation at its best

 Story by Nicholas Lester / Contributing Writer

When I first saw the trailer for Disney/Pixar’s “Coco” back in April, I felt uninspired. “It just looks like a ripoff of ‘The Book of Life,’” I told myself.  

Note to self — never bet against Pixar ever again.

This movie is the best Pixar film since their 2015 hit “Inside Out,” even if you might not have guessed it from the trailers. While it’s not exactly perfect, the film’s flaws get lost in the midst of everything it does so well.

As usual, the animation is incredible — at this point with Pixar, if the animation was anything less than near-perfection, we’d call them out on it. There’s a scene toward the beginning where Miguel, the main protagonist, looks in awe at a city that he just entered, and it’s those shots that other animation studios should aspire to work toward.  

The acting is solid as well. If you don’t currently know any of the names of the cast members, you probably will within a year or two because they’ve definitely left their mark on the film industry in “Coco.”

I also have to praise this movie for its marketing. It’s sold as one movie but presented as something totally different, and that’s pretty hard to do. If you haven’t seen it and you think you know how it ends, stop thinking because you’re wrong. “Coco” has one of the most unpredictable endings that I’ve ever seen, which makes it even more worth while.

However, what this movie excels at the most is something that isn’t anything new for Pixar: tugging on your heartstrings.  When the movie ended, I don’t think that there was a single dry eye in the theater, including my own, and I pretty much never cry in movies.  

But, as is the case with every movie, “Coco” has its flaws. While there is some originality to it, it does follow a lot of common tropes we’ve seen before, including but not limited to the “comic relief sidekick” trope, the “dumb animal sidekick” trope and the “main character wants to follow his heart instead of do what his family wants him to do” trope, which makes some of the movie somewhat predictable. And while it isn’t a total ripoff, it does borrow plot elements from “The Book of Life” that are hard to ignore.

As I stated earlier, “Coco” has an incredibly emotional ending, but where it succeeds in emotion it somewhat lacks in humor. Don’t get me wrong, there’s definitely some humor in this movie, but not nearly as much as, say, “Inside Out.” You’re much more likely to cry during this movie than laugh.

I also thought that it was kind of convenient that the main characters, who are from Mexico, only spoke Spanish words that an English-speaking audience could understand. Additionally, the film’s rules in The Land of the Dead were kind of unclear, which prompted my curiosity mid-movie.

However, there aren’t many Pixar movies that I’d rank above “Coco,” so I’d definitely recommend seeing this one in theaters if you can.

To contact Lifestyles Editor Tayhlor Stephenson, email lifestyles@mtsusidelines.com.

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  1. Josie D.
    Dec 02, 2017 - 03:32 PM

    As a big fan of The Book of Life, I felt the same way initially when the first trailer for Coco came out. With the busy nature of the end of the semester, I still haven’t had a chance to see it as of writing this, but this review keeps me hopeful. What really swayed me on this film were the comments of the director of The Book of Life, Jorge Gutierrez. He has emphasized multiple times now that another film representing and celebrating Mexican culture is more than welcome, and that seeing this subject matter as loved and not just profitable would be a good step for Hollywood. I’m glad to know from reviews like this that Coco is not a ‘rip-off’, and instead is its own movie which succeeds in respectfully embracing Mexican culture. The movies are quite obviously thematically similar, with a focus on music and the afterlife, but they are visually unique and independent. The Book of Life has this fabulous wooden puppet or marionette style modelling and animation to it, while Coco, from the trailers at least, appears to have the smooth look of other Pixar films. Having seen the animated short about the dog from Coco, I am excited to see if other parts of the movie embrace a more cartoony style of motion with exaggerated squash and stretch, especially with the magical nature of whatever holds skeletons together. Pixar is known for its high-quality work, but it couldn’t hurt to have a little more variety in its visual stylings. Perhaps Coco will bring that to the table, I’ll just have to see it myself to find out.

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  2. Vanessa Neptune
    Dec 11, 2017 - 06:54 PM

    I personally have not seen this movie yet, but I do plan to see it soon. I remember seeing the trailer for it on TV and thinking that it was just another cute Pixar film, but what really made me want to see it is because it is representing Mexican culture. I am not Mexican, but I have always been very fascinated by Mexican or any Latin American culture. I also got excited for this movie because it shows people of color.

    I love how they made this movie so true to Mexican culture, and even went the extra mile to make sure they had actual Latino/Latina’s voicing the characters. The only person from the cast I knew of was Gabriel Iglesias. Whenever I would see the trailer for “Coco”, it made me excited to see how they incorporated elements from Mexican culture such as Day of the Dead, vibrant colors, etc. I actually did some research of my own for the movie and read that some of the film’s cast actually went to Mexico to get some inspiration. I also found out that “Coco” is a musical; I don’t know how that passed over me. I just love how much time and respect they put into making this movie about Mexican culture.

    I personally love learning about geography and other culture, so this movie caught my interest fast. I wish Disney and Pixar would create movies based on every culture from around the world. It would be so cool for everybody in every culture to feel represented for once.

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