Coco represents a step in the right direction for Pixar, moving beyond recent negative headlines to release its first film featuring a person of colour in the lead. Set around Mexico’s Day of The Dead, young Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez) accidentally finds himself trapped in The Land of The Dead when he defies his family’s ban on music.
Pixar movies are not quite the event they once were, with recent releases not living up to the company’s flawless early days. Some of the lesser films have a production line feel about them, and Coco carries elements of the past in the plot lines – a little bit of Ratatouille here, a touch of Up there.
Such criticisms just go to show how high the bar is for a Pixar movie, because while it may not feel entirely original, it entertains from start to finish. The setting, traditions and characters feel authentic rather than a series of stereotypes (it so impressed Mexican viewers that it became their highest grossing film of all time).
Better still, it uses the framework of The Day Of The Dead to weave in a lesson about family, as well as dealing with heavier issues such as death and dementia with a gentle touch. This leads to the tender moments Pixar is famous for, draping the sentiment in typically gorgeous animation.
Rather than stunt cast, the voices fit the characters perfectly. Youngster Gonzalez carries the film as Miguel, closely followed by Gael Garcia Bernal as Héctor, his charming but untrustworthy partner on The Other Side.
The studio famous for innovation recycles many old ideas for Coco. At its best, however, it retains the beauty that once made Pixar films a cut above everyone else. Even in second gear, Pixar can still make stories to remember.