It’s hard for me to remember that Pixar was once known for their creativity and genuine storytelling. This is mainly because the last couple of Pixar sequels have been lazy. Finding Dory was a plot rehash of the original, and Cars 3 was a generic dumpster fire. And even though Inside Out still brought their A-game when it came to emotional punches, it was still generic and uncreative when it came to telling a story. (…with that said, I would rather watch Inside Out a dozen times before ever watching Finding Dory or Cars 3 again.)
But what I forgot was that Pixar works best when they come up with fresh new ideas. Coco is a shining example of that.
The animation and visual effects are undoubtedly the best of the year. I suppose that isn’t a grand statement to make about 2017, but they are still impressive regardless. Everything from the character design to the world our protagonist is thrown into was pleasing to the eye and full of life.
The character’s journey is treated as honestly and maturely as one could expect a children’s movie to treat it. One of the things that really impressed me was that Pixar seemed to de-prioritize the ever-treaded, highly-cliche themes of “follow your dreams” or “be true to yourself”. Our protagonist does start out seeking these things, but realizes that certain things are more important, and that self-discovery can even lead to horrible things.
I liked it, and it seemed like Pixar was trying to find new messages to tell without straying to far from the standard formula (this is Disney after all).
The music was really great, it was pleasant to listen to, and it really helped Coco create its own identity.
The voice acting was really good.
There are a few criticisms I have for the film. Many of them are things that I think would have made Coco an amazing film instead of really good. All of these criticisms will spoil the movie, and I plan on writing another article about exactly that, so stay tuned.
I will say this though: I hated the dog character. At the beginning, all he’s used for is witless comic relief, and to push certain plot points forward solely because “he’s stupid and gets the boy into trouble”. However, the plot does give him more to do in the second half, so his existence doesn’t ruin the movie.
Regardless, the animation of the dog would be the only thing I would consider “ugly” and “subpar”. He often just looked like a poorly animated sausage with sticks for legs and googly eyes. I’m not sure why his animation looks so lazy, but what can you do?
Also, the short at the beginning was from Frozen. Hence, it was obnoxious, boring, and forgettable. I guess people with fanboy brains don’t realize that there are two things that make Pixar shorts so delightful and memorable:
- It gives Pixar the opportunity to experiment with new animation and new ideas.
- It forces them to tell stories with almost no dialogue.
Because it was a Frozen singalong, neither of these things happened, so we just have Elsa and Anna singing forgettable songs, and Olaf doing shenanigans only the most adolescent of people would graciously call “comic-relief”.
Regardless, I would call Coco a highlight for Pixar’s legacy. It is fun, creative, and very successfully emotional.