An Arguing With Myself Review: Coco
Despite his family’s generations-old ban on music, Miguel Rivera dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz. Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself in the stunning and colorful Land of the Dead. Along the way, he meets charming trickster Hector, and together, they set off on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel’s family history.
When I chose to take part in the “Oscar Challenge”on my friend Shane’s podcast Media Mosh, a task that involves watching all nine of the Academy’s nominated films by the air date, I wanted to throw Coco into the mix. Unfortunately, my attention was squandered by watching ALL of the nominated films and time wouldn’t allow a tenth nominee. I don’t understand why there needs to be a separate category for animated films. Coco and films of the like could easily be a contender for “Best Picture”. I’m not here to restructure the Oscars. But come on! The Academy has had ninety tries, if they can’t figure it out by now, they sure as heck won’t listen to me.
Coco was visually wonderous as you’d come to expect from Pixar. They never slack in that department. There is a formula they like to uphold with their particular brand of storytelling. Much like constructing a song, there’s a structure to it. This, however, seemed to stand out from the rest of their film catalog. The story told is steeped in Mexican tradition. More specifically, Día de Muertos or Day of the Dead. The day focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember those who have passed to help support their spiritual journey. Pretty heavy for the kiddos, I think. There’s something for all in spite of the subject matter. Coco is culturally specific but universally understood. And that isn’t an easy task to accomplish.
I’m an adult who loves animated storytelling. I can be just as emotionally invested in a “cartoon” as I am with flesh and blood. Knowing this was Pixar and knowing my investment in the story, I patiently waited for the needle to drop. That moment when the waterworks would be released but it didn’t come…when I THOUGHT it would. Dammit, Pixar! Ya got me! You got me good. Just when I thought, maybe my skin had toughened? Nope. Pixar is best when they tell an original story. Not when they dilute their films by unnecessary sequels. Otherwise, they have an impeccable track record. At least for me. What other studio, in a twenty-some-odd year period, only has a handful of box office disappointments? Not many. I’m an easy sell, though. As long as there are songs in their heart, I’ll keep singing their praises.