The Disney-Pixar pitch for this must have been unusual: “Hey, how about we make a film about a kid who winds up in the Land of the Dead and needs help from a bunch of skeletons?” If your first thought was, understandably, “But won’t that be scary for children?” then we only have to point to Coco‘s PG certificate to prove it won’t be (although, tellingly, it didn’t receive a U – perhaps skellies removing their heads to take selfies was a bit much for smaller ankle-biters).
The result is actually adorable: so adorable, in fact, that you might leave the cinema wanting to randomly hug people, or at least call up distant members of your family and tell them that you love them (or, y’know, just poke them on Facebook instead). Coco, as with so many ‘toons these days (Kubo And The Two Strings being its nearest neighbour) is all about how family is everything – even those who have moved on.
Little Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez) is a frustrated musician growing up in a clan that has banned music, thanks to his guitar-playing great-great grandfather’s indiscretions. On the Mexican Day of the Dead he accidentally ends up cursed and lost in the Land of the Dead, and so sets out to find this musical ancestor to get his blessing and break the curse. Your jaw may drop: the land itself is extraordinary; never let it be said that Coco isn’t creatively astounding, and the songs are delightful. Perhaps the plot’s a little predictable, but the inventiveness of everything else – from the dead cities and the clacking skeletons to the colourful spirit animals – more than makes up for guessing the twists in advance.
And wow, how wonderful to see Mexican culture celebrated so positively in a Trumpian world: truly, these are the best kind of walking dead. Reviewed by Jayne Nelson
Release: 19 January 2018
From: Walt Disney Studios
Formats: Theatrical Release
Age rating: PG