Review Roundup: Were Critics Charmed by Disney/Pixar's COCO?
Despite his family's baffling generations-old ban on music, Miguel (voice of newcomer Anthony Gonzalez) dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz (voice of Benjamin Bratt). Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself in the stunning and colorful Land of the Dead following a mysterious chain of events. Along the way, he meets charming trickster Hector (voice of Gael García Bernal), and together, they set off on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel's family history.
The film features the voice talents of Gael García Bernal, Anthony Gonzalez, Benjamin Bratt, Renée Victor, Ana Ofelia Murguía, Jaime Camil, Sofía Espinosa, Luis Valdez, Lombardo Boyar, Edward James Olmos, Alanna Ubach, Selene Luna, Alfonso Arau, Herbert Siguenza, Octavio Solis, Gabriel Iglesias, Cheech Marin, and Blanca Araceli.
Directed by Lee Unkrich ("Toy Story 3"), co-directed by Adrian Molina (story artist "Monsters University") and produced by Darla K. Anderson ("Toy Story 3"), Disney•Pixar's "Coco" opens in U.S. theaters on Nov. 22, 2017.
Before it hits theaters tomorrow, check out what the critics have to say about the animated film!
A.O. Scott, The New York Times: "COCO is also one of those Pixar movies that attempt a conceptual breakthrough, an application of the bright colors and open emotionalism of modern, mainstream animation to an unlikely zone of experience. From the very start, the studio has explored the inner lives of inanimate objects like lamps and toys with a tenderness we now take for granted. It has also summoned the post-human future (WALL-E) and the human unconscious (INSIDE OUT) with breathtaking ingenuity. And now it has set out to make a family-friendly cartoon about death...COCO avoids the darker tones associated with this theme, in the way that old murder ballads are sometimes reconceived as children's songs. It's reassuring rather than haunting, which is a shrewd and successful commercial compromise, but a compromise all the same."
Michael Rechtshaffen, The Hollywood Reporter: "Not only does the Disney outfit's 19th feature, co-directed by Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina, emerge as Pixar's most original effort since INSIDE OUT, it's also among its most emotionally resonant, touching on themes of belonging common to FINDING DORY and the Unkrich-directed TOY STORY 3. Delivering a universal message about family bonds while adhering to folkloric traditions free of the watering down or whitewashing that have often typified Americanized appropriations of cultural heritage, the gorgeous production also boasts vibrant visuals and a peerless voice cast populated almost entirely by Mexican and Latino actors."
Peter Debruge, Variety: "Thought undeniably gorgeous, none of this feels terribly original, from the film's message to the look of the Mexican underworld, which so recently inspired another computer-animated feature, 2014's THE BOOK OF LIFE. A bit too close to that toon for comfort, COCO feels like Unkrich and his story team (so good at perfecting and/or "plussing" Pixar's projects) watched THE BOOK OF LIFE and thought, "Hey, we've got a better idea!" or "We can fix this!" and proceeded to make their own Día De Los Muertos movie. In any case, it works: COCO's creators clearly had the perfect ending in mind before they'd nailed down all the other details, and though the movie drags in places, and features a few too many childish gags (like skeletons who snap off their own arms and use them as nunchaku), the story's sincere emotional resolution earns the sobs it's sure to inspire..."
Brian Truitt, USA Today: "Effervescent, clever and thoughtful, COCO is infused with an infectious youthful spirit and a deep musical soul in telling the tale of a young Mexican boy with a twofold mission: to grab his musical dreams and heal a familial rift. The joyful journey is Pixar's best effort since 2015's INSIDE OUT and, like the studio's greatest works, makes you laugh and cry in equal doses. (If UP left you a teary mess, go ahead and bring a whole tissue box.)"
Johnny Oleksinski, New York Post: "The Pixar you know and love is back. After a string of lazy franchise retreads, such as CARS 3 and FINDING DORY, and overly clever concepts like INSIDE OUT, the ingenious animation studio has come blazing into the holiday season with COCO, one of its sweetest and most soul-satisfying movies ever. Not adhering to the traditional formula - an "Under the Sea" here, a "Let It Go" there - allows the COCO writers to dive deep into authentic Latin music, like ranchera and corrido. Many of the numbers are sung entirely in Spanish or Spanglish. Yet more enlivening are the movie's unusually high stakes - surely Pixar's highest since the sublime UP. That's because the main character here isn't a bug, or a rat or a blob called Sadness - he's a little boy with big dreams and even bigger emotions."
David Ehrlich, indieWire: "Fresh and stale in equal measure, COCO represents the best of what Pixar can be, and the worst of what they've become. Impressively, it often does both of those things at the exact same time, the film illustrating the studio's limitless imagination, but doing so in the service of a tediously derivative adventure that can't withstand even a scintilla of scrutiny. This a movie that finds them trying some (long overdue) new things, while also falling into some of their worst habits; a movie that doesn't come to life until it enters the Land of the Dead."
Brian Lowry, CNN: "Pixar gets back to its roots with COCO, which wraps two universal themes -- pursuing one's dreams, and how we remember loved ones -- in a colorful, culturally specific package. As the animation powerhouse has increasingly turned to the comfort of sequels, this look at the afterlife represents a lively original concept, one that powers through its flat patches with a whole lot of heart...COCO doesn't fully scale the heights of its predecessors, but where it counts, the movie hits almost all the right notes."