here is only one dream for 12-year-old Miguel: He wants to become a musician, like his great role model Ernesto de la Cruz. Whenever he can, he watches videos of his deceased idol or practices on his guitar. There is only one problem: his family. She has little interest in music, even hates it. After all, his great-great-grandfather left his wife and child to advance his career. Since then, any form of music has been taboo. But Miguel won’t let that be dissuaded. While everyone is busy preparing for the Day of the Dead, he secretly sneaks into the crypt of de la Cruz and steals his guitar. The goal: to take part in a musician competition. Instead he is suddenly stuck in the middle of the land of the dead and needs the help of his idol, of all things.
Just entertaining? That wasn’t enough for Pixar Studios . Shouldn’t the colleagues from Blue Sky Studios ( Ice Age ) and Illumination ( Minions ) rely primarily on slapstick, at Pixar, since the debut Toy Story in 1995, they have always strived for a little more depth. Or do we say almost always. Not every of her films lived up to this claim, especially in recent years the adult audience has been lost a little. But that the Americans can still go their own way was proven two years ago with the masterpiece Everything is upside down . And even if Coco Can’t really compete with this one, so this year he is undoubtedly one of the first guard in the animation sector.
In the meantime, one could already have doubts whether the film will see the light of day. Pixar worked on the work for several years. Every now and then you heard from him without it becoming more concrete. But the time invested in Coco, which was also invested in on-site research in Mexico, paid off – at least visually. Technically, the studio traditionally belongs to the absolute top of its field; a reputation that is again impressively confirmed here. Whether we are in the Mexican village of Santa Cecilia or later in the land of the dead, details are everywhere, there is something to discover and marvel at.
Unlike Manolo and the Book of Life , which almost three years ago also played on the Day of the Dead, Coco lays a lot of emphasis on realism, at least within the fantastic framework. The figures are expressive, but taken from the here and now – unlike their strongly stylized colleagues. It’s downright scary how Pixar brought the village to life. In many places you would almost like to think that you are walking through the narrow streets of an actual village. Even more so than the real world, which is kept in friendly colors, the land of the dead becomes an optical highlight. On the one hand gloomy, but at the same time brightly colored, the many imaginative elements merge into a painting that is surreal, morbid and yet full of joie de vivre. After all, unlike ours, the Day of the Dead is not a day of silent prayer, but a lavish festival.
It goes without saying that you can laugh hard at this one. Adrian Molina , who wrote the script here and directed it together with Pixar veteran Lee Unkrich , designed a number of curious characters that keep the adventure open. In the land of the dead in particular, it seems that people like to look after their own chests. You don’t even need the clumsy dog or the larger than life Ernesto de la Cruz. In the shadow of the megastar, there are many others who do not necessarily see their own death as an occasion for self-reflection, stumble from one strange situation to the next.
Coco is quite thoughtful, the audience will also encourage to do so. Above all, it wants to encourage people to remember: A person is only really dead when no one remembers him or her. As usual in Mexico, remembering, especially of the family, is celebrated. It goes without saying that this goes hand in hand with touching scenes. In general, the film doesn’t necessarily shine with big surprises. One suspects relatively quickly what is being played here, and the contrast between individual development and family obligations finds its expected dissolution. So it lacks the great originality that has distinguished other works by Pixar, for example Die Monster AG or WALL · E – The last one cleans up the earth . But what Coco lacks in that respect, he makes up for that with a lot of passion and energy. And with a wistful, theatrical music that is really based on the Mexican setting and gives the film various points of sympathy compared to the characterless constant pop irrigation of the animation competition.
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