When Melania Trump is out in public with Donald uttering his latest verbal faux pas she finds herself quoting to herself the opening line of Pixar’s new film Coco, ‘Sometimes I think I’m cursed’. It’s not the sort of line that you expect to open a House of Mouse movie but then Pixar have a habit of taking on metaphysical concepts and making a success of them as seen with ‘Inside Out’ .
Here they take on the Mexican Day of the Dead festival with gusto. Miguel, a shoe shine boy, is being pressurised into working in the family shoe making business rather than follow his love of music and become a singer like his hero the long dead TV singing star Ernesto de La Cruz . Wanting to take part in a local talent contest Miguel finds himself transported to the Land of the Dead, not some George A Romero zombie infested location, but a Mexican nirvana where the skeletons of long departed family members reside. Miguel’s only hope of returning to the living is to be blessed by a family member but he only has a day before he’s destined to remain with the long deceased family members and it’s that race against time element that plays like Back to the Future. It’s not as morbid as it might seem and the film takes pains to lay down its ground rules. Into this is Miguel’s pursuit of who he believes is his Great, Great Grandfather from a photo with a head torn off a la Bond bonanza ‘Spectre’. Miguel’s family have disowned the man in the photo believing that he abandoned their Great, Great Grandmother and her daughter Coco to be a singing star. It explains why the family are so dead set against Miguel’s pursuit of a musical career.
The film unfolds in a series of set pieces which race towards a tearjerking yet heart warming scene at which Pixar excel. After the disappointment and unnecessary Cars 3 this is a swift return to form for Pixar. What’s best about this is its emphasising the importance of family which its plays with initially seeming to endorse a child’s defiance of family wishes suggesting that to be successful you have to be ruthless. But this is Disney (so yes there is is the obligatory amusing sidekick animal) and ultimately its dark theme rightly succumbs to the idea of the strength of a cohesive family unit as a positive and uplifting ideal. It’s all encapsulated in the song ‘Remember Me’ a song which moves from an egotistical ode by De La Cruz to a hold-back-the- tears serenade by Miguel.
Embracing its Mexican theme with subtle cultural references to mono-browed artist Frida Kahlo and for a film whose screen family are shoemakers this is anything but cobblers.
Here’s the trailer…….