The latest from animation powerhouse Pixar, there’s a wonderfully old-fashioned, moral, Disney feel to Coco - yet it feels simultaneously fresh. Young Mexican boy Miguel has a unrequited passion for music - his family dismiss his artistic talent ever since a family descendent abandoned them years ago to pursue his own dreams of being a musician.
When the guitar inside the statue of his local celebrity idol magically comes to life, Miguel is transported to the phantasmagorical irreverence of The Land Of The Dead, where he must get back to the living, and discover the true meaning of how family lasts forever…
The animation is technically extremely rich, full of little moments of slapstick, particularly in the world of the afterlife - eye-sockets retract and jaws fall off.
But it’s the emotional, human touches of affection which really resonate. For example, the title itself refers to the oldest living member of Miguel’s family - Grandma Coco. Well into her hundreds, the lines and wrinkles on her face are rendered with such minutia of detail and texture, that there were moments - as so often happens with computer-animations, where my disbelief was so suspended that I believed that these characters were really people - and was completely emotionally captivated.
It’s also thankfully very telling in its timing and themes. Along with tackling quite difficult, universal thematic material for children: life, death, forgiveness etc, it’s also somewhat of a much-publicised statement against the separation-politics which presently loom over us. With diversity currently such a hot-button topic, this is one of the first mainstream animations ever to have an almost entirely Latino cast. There are nods to making a stance against both Trump and Brexit, even a reference to immigration control, but all treated subtly enough as to not be too heavily ladled-on. It’s so refreshing to see a Hollywood studio make such a celebratory film about embracing another culture so fully.
This joyousness is evident in the glorious songs, from the Frozen lyricists, notably Remember Me, which will have many parents misty-eyed by the end. A delight - bound for Oscar glory.
Rating: * * * *