Coco — 4.5 Gavels 97% Rotten Tomatoes

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Colorful and musical, it’s hard to find fault with Coco.  The Land of the Dead is so elaborate that it almost looks inviting.  Topping it off with a TSA-like entrance, a unique “ussie,” parties, a concert, and you are in for a treat.  Pixar has done it again with a great story with an unexpected twist.  It’s easy to see why this is the highest grossing movie all-time in Mexico.  As an added attraction, the first half hour is Olaf’s Christmas Adventure to get you in the mood for Christmas.  I assume you remember Frozen.  Then you will settle in for Dia de Muertos.

Miguel is 12 years old and his family makes shoes and forbids music.  His great-great grandfather was a musician who abandoned his family, never to be forgiven.  Defying his family, Miguel borrows a guitar from the tomb of legendary star Ernesto de la Cruz which sends him to the Land of the Dead along with street dog, Dante.  Since he needs the blessing of a family member to return to the living, Miguel seeks the help of Hector, a man of questionable character, to locate Ernesto.  A menacing spirit guide is just one of the obstacles to be overcome.  Coco is Miguel’s great grandmother.  Learning why the movie is named for her is the journey Miguel and the audience need to take.

If you watch Mozart in the Jungle on Amazon, you will recognize the voice of Gael Garcia Bernal.  Benjamin Bratt voices Ernesto de la Cruz in a small, but crucial, part.  Alanna Ubach is appropriately spicy voicing Imelda as Miguel’s great-great grandmother.  Rene Victor is the enforcer as his grandmother.  Dante has no speaking part but provides a nice touch of comedy.

Is this movie too close to the Book of Life?  While there are skeletal characters and depictions of the Land of the Dead, each is unique and the stories completely dissimilar.  It does take a while to figure out Miguel’s family tree as it seems there are lots of mamas which, of course, there are.  Remembering those generations is the point of the holiday; perhaps we Americans should spend more time learning about our great-great grandparents.  Bottom line is that kids and adults will enjoy this trip.  If you are the least bit superstitious, maybe it would be best for you to secure the blessing of a family member to insure your return.  No harm, right?

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