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+ Recommended – PG, Adventure

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Visually, Coco might be one of the best animation films in recent history, and the best of the year. It’s a story that maneuvers between passion, love, and family dynamic so seamlessly.

The main protagonist Miguel (Anthony Gonzales) navigates his coming-of-age by balancing family with his one true passion: music. Unlike most other families in Mexico, Miguel’s family doesn’t allow music in their presence. While this may seem morbid initially, the explanation paves way to a larger story arc. He’s thrust into the land of the dead on Día de los Muertos, The Day of the Dead, and it’s there that he has to learn if his loyalty lies with music or his family.

Coco takes its time to flesh out characters; not one here feels flat, or underwritten. Voice acting maintains consistency with the animation surrounding it well into the final moments of the film. Compared to similar films, such as The Book of Life (2014), the emotional impact of the story being told hits the mark. By the end of the film it was easy to consider myself a part of the family and I wanted to linger around in their world a little longer to indulge myself in the culture.

Lee Unkrich, who directed the film, has worked on numerous animation films including: Toy Story 2 (co-director), Toy Story 3 (director), Finding Nemo (co-director), and Monsters, Inc. (co-director), so it’s no surprise that Coco’s production quality is no different. Animation can stretch far beyond an audience full of kids and this movie is no exception to that. We can only hope that rich, culture pieces, to the liking of Coco, increasingly find their way into writing rooms and cinemas everywhere.

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