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Film review: Coco


Set around Mexico’s Day of the Dead and filled with music and animated skeletons, Coco is a colourful and imaginative family film for the holidays.

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Free-spirited youngster Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez) dreams of being a musician like his hometown hero Ernesto de la Cruz. The problem is, his family hates music – so much so that his ancestors banned it from their lives.

When they discover his secret, Miguel runs away and finds himself transported to the land of the dead. With new friend Hector and dim-witted mutt Dante by his side, he embarks on a bone-rattling adventure to find his ancestors and discover the truth about his family and the secret that banished music from their lives.

Directed by Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina, who were also part of the team of four that wrote the original story on which the film is based, Coco is set around the Mexican holiday of Día de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead). It’s a time when those who have died can return home to spend one night among their living family, who honour them with offerings and shrines.

While it may seem a strange holiday about which to make a kids’ movie, Coco is a beautifully crafted story filled with positive messages about the importance of family and forging your own path – and despite a large number of the characters being dead, it’s not at all scary.

Unkrich and Molina have created a vibrant, imaginative film filled with music, colour and lovable characters, with their vision brought to life in spectacular fashion by a team of talented animators from Disney Pixar. Despite its ominous name, the meticulously crafted Land of the Dead is a bustling metropolis filled with bright lights and a quirky collection of skeletal characters wearing beautiful costumes.

The skeletons each have unique traits which endear them to the audience. Equally impressive are the detailed features of the living characters, from Miguel’s deep brown eyes to the realistic wrinkles on his great-grandmother’s withered face.

There is plenty of action to keep kids entertained, while adults will appreciate the film’s subtle humour, uplifting messages, and soundtrack of original and fiesta-inspired songs.

Coco features the voice talents of Benjamin Bratt as Ernesto de la Cruz and Gael Garcia Bernal as Hector, but it’s Gonzalez who steals the show as Miguel, a sweet boy struggling to find his place among his family.

Featuring an all-Latino cast, the film is a beautiful and respectful depiction of Mexican culture with a perfect blend of action and humour that makes it must-see holiday viewing.

Coco opens in cinemas on Boxing Day.

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