COCO’S DEAD CHARM­ING

Pretoria News Weekend - - FILM - MICHAEL RECHTSHAFFEN

DIA de los Muer­tos, the multi-day Mex­i­cano­rig­i­nated hol­i­day hon­our­ing dead fam­ily mem­bers and friends, proves to have a re­mark­ably re­vi­tal­is­ing ef­fect on Pixar, as ev­i­denced by the truly re­splen­dent Coco.

Not only does the Dis­ney out­fit’s 19th fea­ture, co-di­rected by Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina, emerge as Pixar’s most orig­i­nal ef­fort since In­side Out, it’s also among its most emo­tion­ally res­o­nant, touch­ing on themes of be­long­ing com­mon to Find­ing Dory and Toy Story 3.

De­liv­er­ing a uni­ver­sal mes­sage about fam­ily bonds, while ad­her­ing to folk­loric tra­di­tions free of the wa­ter­ing down or white­wash­ing that have of­ten typ­i­fied Amer­i­can­ised ap­pro­pri­a­tions of cul­tural her­itage, the gor­geous pro­duc­tion also boasts vi­brant vi­su­als and a peer­less voice cast pop­u­lated al­most en­tirely by Mex­i­can and Latino ac­tors.

It’s a safe bet that au­di­ences the world over will go loco for Coco.

De­spite the ti­tle, the lead char­ac­ter is, in fact, Miguel (ter­rif­i­cally voiced by young An­thony Gon­za­lez), a 12-year-old res­i­dent of the town of Santa Ce­cilia, who dreams of be­com­ing a fa­mous mu­si­cian just like his idol, the late, great Ernesto de la Cruz (played with pitch-per­fect grandios­ity by Ben­jamin Bratt).

Only trou­ble is, Miguel’s fam­ily has for­bid­den any form of mu­sic in their house­hold for the past sev­eral gen­er­a­tions.

Nev­er­the­less, Miguel sets off to fol­low his muse and, in the process, finds him­self sub­ject to an oth­er­worldly oc­cur­rence that re­sults in him be­ing vis­i­ble only to those who have come from the Land of the Dead to take part in Dia de los Muer­tos cel­e­bra­tions.

Miguel’s only hope of re­vers­ing the ef­fect is to be blessed with a mag­i­cal marigold petal by his great-great-grand­mother, Mama Imelda (Alanna Noel Ubach), but she’ll only com­ply un­der the con­di­tion that he’ll for­ever re­nounce any mu­si­cal as­pi­ra­tions.

At ev­ery imag­i­na­tive junc­ture, the film­mak­ers cre­ate a richly woven tapestry of re­searched sto­ry­telling, fully di­men­sional char­ac­ters, clever touches both ten­der and amus­ingly macabre and vivid, beau­ti­fully tex­tured vi­su­als. The as­sem­bled voice cast sim­i­larly shines and equally af­fect­ing is the film’s mu­si­cal pal­ette, with Michael Gi­acchino de­liv­er­ing yet another stir­ring score. – Wash­ing­ton Post

LIVELY: It’s a safe bet that au­di­ences the world over will go loco for Coco.

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