Coco (2017)

Starring: Anthony Gonzalez, Gael García Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Alanna Ubach

Directed by: Lee Unkrich, Adrian Molina

Rating: 1 2 3 4

Filled with colour, warmth and humour, Coco is a delightful adventure through the world of Mexico's Dia de los Muertos traditions.

Héctor (voiced by Gael García Bernal) and Miguel (voiced by Anthony Gonzalez) in Coco

Young Miguel has been born into a family of shoemakers who, thanks to a Footloose-style past sadness, hate music. Anything remotely musical is banned from their otherwise warm and cheerful home by his fierce but loving grandmother. Yet Miguel dreams of making it as a musician like his hero, Mexico's answer to Elvis, Ernesto de la Cruz. But when, on the Day of the Dead, when the ancestors return to the land of the living to visit their families, Miguel attempts to steal his deceased idol's guitar, he accidentally initiates an adventure that literally becomes a matter of life and death.

Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt) and Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez) in Coco

Like that Powell and Pressburger masterpiece, Coco is a wonderful, Technicolor celebration of the afterlife that makes you feel glad to be alive and loving and living. Mixing the lurid, colourful bureaucracy of the ghostworld in Beetlejuice with the pizzazz and energy of a Busby Berkley musical, who knew the great beyond could be such fun? Yes, the Orpheus-in-Footloose premise is pretty ridiculous, but just as what happens in Bomont has its own weird internal logic, so here you just have to go with it and not question anything too closely.

As you'd expect from Pixar, the animation in Coco is beautiful, filled with delightful, characterful detail (I love love love the hapless street dog, tellingly called Dante...) and the voice performances are charming too, particularly Gael García Bernal as the eternally optimistic singing skeleton Héctor whose encounter with Miguel turns out to be more than just coincidental...

Dante the dog in Coco

Sweet, only a little bit sentimental, moving, funny and morally satisfying (who can argue with the importance of family or the power of music as themes?) Coco is a joyful family treat. And if you loved the madcap flamboyant vibrancy of Corpse Bride, or just want to see Day of the Dead style writ gloriously large across the big screen, this is definitely the movie for you.

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