Even though Coco follows a standard Disney formula with its storyline about a young child trying to find their true calling, like with Mulan and Moana, it still manages to find ways to reinvent itself. Coco is not just about listening to your inner voice and taking control of your destiny. It’s also about family, forgiveness, and remembrance and it manages to be both entertaining and poignant.
Coco follows the story of a boy named Miguel Rivera (Anthony Gonzalez), who dreams of becoming a musician and idolizes the late, famed singer Ernesto De La Cruz (Benjamin Bratt). However, his family has banned music for generations due to Miguel’s great-great-grandfather leaving his family behind to achieve his musical dreams. As he tries to steal De La Cruz’s guitar, he finds himself in the colorful Land Of The Dead where he meets trickster Hector (Gael Garcia Bernal). Together, they embark on a journey to uncover Miguel’s family history.
The story involving a magical guitar may provide shades of last year’s Kubo And The Two Strings. But this film couldn’t be any more different because Kubo is more about the power of telling stories while Coco is about keeping the memory of the deceased. Miguel yearns to be a musician because it's his passion. But eventually, he chooses to play music as a way to carry the memory of his ancestors who share the same passion.
There is even an original song called “Remember Me” that perfectly embodies the film’s themes. Interestingly, for a film about music, “Remember Me” is one of its few original songs. But, because the song acts as an emotional crux, it is uncertain whether other songs were really needed. Plus, original songs haven’t exactly been a trademark in Pixar films anyhow.
Like with any other Pixar film, the animation is stunning and the way the Land Of The Dead is created is colorful. But Coco possesses unfortunate Pixar clichés as well like an antagonist reveal you can almost see coming and a somewhat predictable ending. It’s a bit of a shame that it falls under those clichés because with 2015’s Inside Out not having an antagonist and a less foreseeable climax, it seemed like Pixar would veer away from its formula.
But in spite of Coco possessing similar machinations, it is still a profound film going experience that is fun for the whole family as well. It has a lot of heart and it also progressively shines a light on the Mexican community. Even if it isn’t one of Pixar’s all-time best films, it is still their best since Inside Out and is highly recommended.