When Pixar Animation Studios released its movie Up in 2009, it reached what was at the point, its peak. The movies that followed, such as Incredibles 2, Monsters University, Inside Out, and The Good Dinosaur all proved to be pale shadows of the company’s former greatness. The only real positive presentations that followed Up came in the form of Cars 3, Toy Story 3, and the studio’s 2017 movie Coco. That movie is, next to Up (and Toy Story 3) one of Pixar’s highest peaks. It is a movie with a wonderful, memorable story, stunning animation and visual effects, and bonus content that serves to make the movie even more enjoyable in its home release. When these three elements are joined together, they make Coco a work that is without question, one of Pixar’s elite movies.
Pixar Animation Studios’ 2017 movie Coco is one of the greatest movies that the company has made since making its debut in November 1995 with Toy Story. It is such a memorable and timeless story in part because of its story. The story is actually a three-pronged presentation. One part of the story is simply the story of the importance of family. It is not until Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez – Icebox, The Last Ship, Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders) accidentally takes a trip to the land of the dead (fittingly on one of the most important days in Hispanic culture) that he realizes the importance of family. That realization comes as a result of everything that Miguel encounters during what is essentially a coming-of-age journey. The journey happens because Miguel’s family wants to forbid him from becoming a musician, all because of what happened with one member of the family decades prior. That family member, Hector (Gael Garcia Bernal – Mozart in the Jungle, The Motorcycle Diaries, Y Tu Mama Tambien) ends up unwittingly meeting Miguel during his journey. That chance meeting leads to the story’s second prong, which is a mystery story about who he [Hector] really is. The mystery is solved as a result of Miguel’s journey to meet Ernesto De La Cruz (Benjamin Bratt – Traffic, Law & Order, Miss Congeniality). Along the way, the story’s third prong – the impact of Alzheimer’s Disease – is added in to the mix. Lots of movies have been made about mental health since Hollywood’s golden age, but few if any have ever openly taken on the topic of Alzheimer’s Disease. Keeping all of this in mind, there is clearly a lot going on in this story. Even with so much going on, the movie’s writing team does an admirable job of combining each plot element to make the story one whole presentation. The result of the story being so well-written is that it effortlessly keeps audiences engaged and entertained throughout its one-hour, 45 minute run time. Considering how well the story is written, it makes itself a solid foundation for the movie. The animation and visual effects that are presented in Coco build on the foundation formed by the movie’s story and add another level of enjoyment for the movie.
If there is one thing in which Pixar has excelled in each movie, it is animation. This movie is no different. The animation and general visual effects used in this movie are top notch. They show how far the company has come since 1995 and how far CG animated movies have come. From a detail as minute as the look of a bone, with its indentations and scratches, to something larger, such as the look of the streets and buildings, to the subtlety of the flower petals that form the bridge between the land of the living and dead and so much more, it is clear that painstaking efforts were made to fully immerse audiences in the movie visually as well as in terms of the story. Audiences will be wowed by the subtle way in which the petals move on the bridge, and by the detail of something like Dante’s look, how closely it resembles real life street dogs in Mexico. This will be touched on a little later. Just as impressive are items, such as the details of the city in the land of the dead, and even something as simple as the paper that hangs from the lines in the movie’s opening and finale, and even the look of the cemetery. Simply put, the movie offers so much to appreciate in its look. It shows that the movie’s creative heads did not take their task of bringing the movie to life lightly. They really worked hard to make it completely immersive, and succeeded in doing so. When this aspect is considered with the positive of the story, the two elements make the movie that much more appealing for audiences. As if the story and combined animation and visual effects are not enough, the bonus content that accompanies the movie’s home release adds even more to the presentation, solidifying its place among Pixar’s top tier of movies.
The bonus content that is featured with the home release of Coco adds so much enjoyment to the movie. The most notable of the movie’s bonus content comes in the form of the feature-length audio commentary from the trio of Director Lee Unkrich, Co-Director Adrian Molina, and Producer Darla K. Anderson. The trio’s discussions during the movie add so much more depth to the presentation. One of the most important revelations that comes from the movie is that the use of the blessing and the flower was inspired by a personal experience from Unkrich as he prepared to start college many years prior. Also of note from the group’s discussions is that a real effort was made to not make the movie a Tim Burton-esque presentation as the movie’s heads knew people would instantly try to make such a comparison, considering the movie’s subject matter. There is even a mention of the detail of the pyramids in the land of the dead, and how it was meant to pay tribute to the many eons of Hispanic culture. These noted aspects and so many others will keep viewers so entertained and engaged, proving without a doubt, the importance of the movie’s bonus content. It is not the only enjoyable bonus feature, either. The separate bonus discussion on the painstaking efforts that were made to make a secondary character, such as Dante believable in his look, adds its own share of interest. Audiences will be interested to learn that apparently, dogs, such as Dante, do lose their teeth, which leads to the tongue in fact going everywhere. So even a detail, such as that is based fully in reality. The other bonuses, “Mi Familia” and the animated short “Welcome to the Fiesta” are enjoyable in their own right, and add a little bit more to the presentation. When they are considered along with the feature-length audio commentary and discussion on the look and actions of Dante, the whole of the movie’s bonus content puts the finishing touch to the movie’s presentation, completely cementing its place not only among Pixar’s extensive list of movies, but also among Hollywood’s long history of animated features.
Pixar Animation Studio’s 2017 movie Coco is one of the company’s elite presentations. It is right up there with the likes of Up, Toy Story 3, and Cars 3. it is also an elite among animated movies. That is proven in part through its story, which seamlessly combines so many plot elements without ever getting bogged down in itself. Its central story of the importance of family, its secondary murder mystery and added starting point on discussions about Alzheimer’s Disease make for a fully engaging and entertaining watch in themselves. The stunning animation and visual effects that are exhibited throughout the movie add even more enjoyment to the movie. The bonus content that accompanies the movie in its home release puts the finishing touch to the movie’s presentation. Each noted item is important in its own way to the whole of the movie. All things considered, they make Coco a wonderful cinematic treat whether on the Day of the Dead, Halloween or any other time of the year.
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