Coco (2017)

I actually rather enjoyed watching Coco! I wasn’t expecting much, thinking it was going to be similar to Kubo and The Two Strings (not a good thing), hence I was thoroughly surprised to find myself charmed by the film. I even shed a tear or two at a certain point!

Anyway, the first thing Coco did very well was to create a universe that was magical and yet logical. I noticed some writers tend to create worlds that are filled with magic but fundamentally lacked sense. See any historical artists’ impression of the future and you’ll get what I mean. Contraptions that look oddly complex for no reason at all and people taking part in strange activities that serve no purpose. Off the top of my head, two films I’ve seen that in: Mary and the Witch’s Flower, and to some extent, The Lorax. Some examples of films that succeeded in making a logical and yet magical universe: Zootopia, Wreck-It Ralph, and Inside Out.

It all boils down to the amount of effort the creators are willing to put in, in order to make a film that appeals to both children and adults. Coco — although heartfelt and entertaining — wasn’t as smart as I had hoped it to be. There were many things I saw coming from miles away and lines that were a tad corny. The script started off brilliantly actually, I was so intrigued by the Spanish-ness I was watching unfold on screen. The accent was cute and the jokes were hilarious. It was around midway/towards the end where it started to feel like the writers got a bit lazy with the writing. Certain scenes that were meant to be touching totally backfired and made me cringe. I don’t think it is impossible to make a smart film that appeals to both children and adults. Looking at the success of Zootopia and Wreck-It Ralph (two of my favourite American animated films ever!), it’s very possible to write a plot with a twist I didn’t see coming at all.

Okay, I’m gonna circle back and end with the things I liked about this movie. As I’ve mentioned, the Land of The Dead in Coco was so much better then the version created by The Book of Life because this one made a lot more sense to me, in the way that it’s designed to function. And gosh, the artwork was so beautiful and the colours were so vivid! You can’t watch this movie and not marvel at the immense effort put into the graphics. Coco was a real treat for the eyes from start to end.

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Other major pluses for me that are nearly completely subjective, was the totally legit guitar playing, the cameos made by certain Spanish legends (I won’t say who *no spoilers*), the super-endearing characters, and also the film’s effort to address the issue of dementia (albeit very lightly). These made up for the areas I found lacking in its plot and script. And unlike past fads like Frozen, the music of this film is actually really, really good. FINALLY, some good music in American animation!

On a side note, I’m wondering whether parents would find themselves having trouble answering questions from their kids about life after death once they’ve seen this film… But on the bright side, I guess Coco successfully portrayed death as a beautiful thing — a reason to celebrate rather than to mourn.

I would think that Coco is a mix between Cats Don’t Dance, Wreck-It Ralph and The Book of Life. It’s not as smart as I hoped it to be but it’s definitely not trashy like Frozen or boring like The Good Dinosaur. I definitely had a good time watching it, and I think most people would enjoy it too!